Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) is happy with his condition after a two-and-a-half-week period in which he has won his first two races of the season.
The Belgian pulled out of the Giro d’Italia in May after the 13th stage and headed over to the Tour of Belgium, where he won the second stage and the points jersey. He backed that up on Sunday with a victory at the testing one-day Rund um Köln in Germany, winning after being in the five-rider break that decided race.
"I am of course happy about this victory," said Boonen in a statement from the Etixx-QuickStep team. "There isn't often a chance to ride in Germany, so it's great to win there when I have the opportunity."
Boonen was the fastest out of a five-man group that remained from an original 23-rider breakaway that shaped the 99th edition of the race. The group maintained a decent advantage by the time they hit the five short finishing laps in Cologne and Boonen had teammate Nikolas Maes with him, who helped him beat Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon18).
"It was a nice race," said the 34-year-old Belgian. "The first part was really up-and-down, left-and-right. There were steep and narrow roads, so it was a quite demanding parcours. On the longest climb of the day Linus Gerdemann set a hard pace. The peloton exploded and we ended up with more than 20 guys ahead after this climb."
"Then we really went full gas and lost a few guys again. Then I eventually attacked, but I was followed by Gerdemann, Nikolas, and three other guys. We worked really well together, full speed, because the peloton was always chasing hard behind. When we entered into the local laps we had about a minute gap, so we played a little bit with the tactics. Nikolas and I tried to keep everybody together for the final sprint. Nikolas did a great job and I finished off the day's work by winning the race."
The victory sees Boonen bring his season back on track after the cruel setback he suffered at Paris-Nice in March, when a dislocated shoulder ruled him out of his beloved spring Classics. He returned to racing at the Tour of Turkey at the end of April, where he helped Mark Cavendish to three stage wins, before making his Giro debut. Now he his back to winning ways and is full of confidence ahead of his next two major objectives: the European Games road race in Baku and the Belgian national championships.
"I am quite satisfied with my condition. After the Baloise Belgium Tour I was tired and it took me a few days to recover. But in the last few days I did some good training, which I probably needed those days after the Giro and Belgium Tour," Boonen said.
"So I am looking to the next objectives with optimism. The next race will be the European Games in Baku. Let's see how the parcours will be. I hope to do a good race, and of course the Nationals at the end of the June are also among my goals. We will see what I can do in the next races."