Lest there were any doubts, this is Tom Boonen country. On Friday afternoon, two days before the Tour of Flanders, an armada of television crews from Belgium and beyond descended upon Etixx-QuickStep’s media gathering at a laminate flooring warehouse in Wielsbeke, where the injured Boonen shot down speculation that he might line out after all.
Around the same time in a small conference at the Broel Hotel in Kortrijk, a rather more low-key ensemble listened to Greg Van Avermaet, a local rider who could very well triumph on Sunday, discuss his Ronde prospects in a voice so quiet that it scarcely reached the reporters sitting in the front row.
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