Tom Boonen went training with his Etixx-QuickStep teammates on Wednesday as they studied the finale of the Tour of Flanders route but team manager Patrick Lefevere has played down speculation that Boonen could line up for Paris-Roubaix, telling Cyclingnews that it would take a miracle for the multiple Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner to be at the start.
Boonen crashed out of Paris-Nice last month, suffering a dislocated shoulder that needed surgery. It seemed to put end to his spring Classics campaign. However a tweet by team sponsor Marc Coucke on Monday night saying there was a 1% chance Boonen could still ride Paris-Roubaix sparked reports that the rider could make a shock return in time for the French Classic.
However Lefevere insisted to Cyclingnews that Boonen had yet to fully recover from his injuries.
“I’ve been to Lourdes three times and I’ve still not seen a miracle. It would take a miracle for Tom to do the Tour of Flanders and for Roubaix I think that the chances are zero,’ Lefevere told Cyclingnews at the start of stage two of the Tour of De Panne.
“Often when you go out on the bike for the first time you feel well and maybe in one moment he thought that Roubaix was possible but the next day he did some real training and he immediately came back with his feet on the ground.”
Boonen took part in the reconnaissance ride with his Etixx QuickStep teammates to assess how his recovery is progressing, leaving just enough room for speculation over Roubaix to remain until next week.
“The doctors said that he’d recover when there was no more pain so that’s why he’s training today with his teammates on the parcours of the Tour of Flanders to see how much pain is left,” Lefevere said.
Etixx-QuickStep remain a formidable force
Even without Boonen in their ranks Etixx-QuickStep remains one of the strongest teams with both Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar well supported for the next two cobbled Monuments. The team have faced questions in the media after failing to land a win in either E3 Harelbeke or Gent-Wevelgem but were second in both and Lefevere is adamant that his team remain a formidable force.
“I think the team is ready. People can look at our results from the whole year because I don’t get the questions aimed at our team. We’re second in the WorldTour, we have 18 victories and no one is better. No team has done better. Even last Sunday in Gent-Wevelgem we had five riders at the finish, two in hospital and one abandon. No other team had that many finishers,’ Lefevere pointed out.
“I’ll tell you what I’ve been saying for the past twenty years. Come back after Liege-Bastogne-Liege. If we’ve not won by then I’ll give you the right comments but not before.”