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The old Boonen is back

The now ex-wearer of the maillot jaune Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) told Sporza radio after the TT that he is extremely happy with the team's first part of the Tour. "It's really impressive to start the first TT as leader in GC! I sort of underestimated the effect of riding the TT in the yellow jersey a bit, it had a lot more impact than what I anticipated," he said "I can TT a bit, I don't have to dig deep to ride a good TT, didn't have to go 100% á bloc to do what I did today. I started well and quickly caught up to Robbie and he 'stayed in my wheel' for a while I think, he came up and glanced now and again. But I kept my pace going and I didn't go into the red once."

In contrast to his mood in previous days, Boonen was more positive about his first week in the Tour. "I'm very happy with the first part of this Tour. To win a stage in the TdF is one thing, but to wear the yellow! "I've accomplished so much this week. To ride in the yellow jersey for four days is simply fantastic. I've felt really good and I'm still very confident. I don't have to force myself at all (laughs) maybe I'll even have to change my ambitions in the future! Everyone who knows cycling could see that I have improved in all areas; and to ride this TT as leader in GC is really something!

"My team deserves some rest now. Not one team could do the work we did this week. We have been riding well since the start, and also launched the sprint every time. Look at how I went in the break yesterday; it was big alarm in the peloton. They had to chase, not because they wanted to, but they had to. We did so much work as a team in this first week. There's few teams who can close gaps and then still pull the sprint in the Tour; we did both. I'm extremely proud and satisfied with how the boys rode.

"I have experienced wearing the green jersey before. It brings a lot of obligations along with it. So I knew how it could be if wearing the yellow. Yellow or green, they're different coloured jerseys, but the obligations are similar. It takes you two hours longer to get to the hotel after the stage and by the time you get to the diner table it's 9.30pm, it could get a bit much sometimes.

"Quick.Step is a team which always makes the races they ride. The tour hasn't been different so far. I mean, yellow is no green, and we couldn't afford not to ride like other teams could. We had to defend the yellow and we did our job well. It has cost extra energy, but we didn't have to force ourselves doing it; we have what we came for so far. We reached our goal."

Boonen also commented on his failed stage 6 sprint, where he finished third behind McEwen and Bennati. "Indeed, I was disappointed yesterday because the stupidest thing which could happen did happen. It's not that we couldn't get it organised or something. What happened is a bit thanks to the pressure of the Belgian press on the team for me to win a sprint. There's so much hype around the Tour, while the racing is no different to other races. The first sprints have been a big mess, too chaotic to control.

Our preparation for the sprint yesterday was perfect but Steven wanted to do too good of a job, and that's why he waited too long. It's not that he couldn't do it; and there definitely were no bad intentions there. He was so afraid of doing something wrong, too nervous because of that hype created by the Belgian press around the sprint finish. If the sprints here would have gone as they normally do, no-one would come past us, but it simply hasn't gone that way. It's normal though I cursed after the finish I think. It's not because this is the Tour that the racing is different, the big fuss which is made about it is different."

"I think that if I have to lose faith in the team, there's a lot of people here who should lose faith in their team. Look at the images of the stages, I rode better than ever. I'm confident enough; it's just those sprints hey. But no worries. To win tomorrow would be ok, but hey, if we lose it wouldn't hurt either."

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