Lars Boom’s trials and tribulations during his short-lived participation at the Tour de France in July may have in fact been a blessing in disguise. The classics specialist will co-lead the Dutch team alongside Niki Terpstra in the elite men’s road race at the World Championships, and he told Cyclingnews that his sparse race schedule since July has left him feeling fresh and motivated.
"I will try, with Niki, to do a really good race," Boom told Cyclingnews. "I think we are the two guys who should do a good ride for the team here, and the other guys will support us in this.
"I think it’s a good course for me and I’m feeling good and motivated. Maybe for a podium…"
Boom and Terpstra will have a strong support crew that includes Tom Dumoulin, Robert Gesink, Sebastian Langeveld, Bauke Mollema, Dylan Baarle, Jos van Emden and Pim Ligthart. Dumoulin was a favourite for the individual time trial held on Wednesday, but he only managed fifth place, 1:02 behind winner Vasil Kiryienka from Belarus. He cited a buttock muscle problem during a final training ride on Tuesday.
"We have a team that can be there for the end of the race and for the way that we want to race, for supporting myself and Niki, and being strong in the final," Boom said.
"It is our goal to make the race hard enough so that there is no sprint in the end."
The course in Richmond has been tipped as a good one for both Classics riders and sprinters, and predictions about how the race will finish have been split down the middle. The 260km race features a cobbled climb through Libby Hill Park, a 19 per cent climb up 23rd street and the final climb up Governor Street, all in the last three kilometres of the 16km urban circuit, before the run-in to the finish line.
"It’s difficult to say [how the race will end] because there are three climbs and then the finish, after 260km, I don’t think it will be a sprint. It’s going to be too difficult," Boom said.
"It’s possible that the race will end in a small group, or with one guy or two guys."
Boom said that he and Terpstra plan on being in that predicted small, select group, or solo, at the end of the race. He said he is feeling fresh and up for the challenge after a strong build-up though August and September leading in to the World Championships.
Boom had a rocky mid-season and almost didn’t start the Tour de France after he was found to have low cortisol levels, of which he later attributed to the use of his asthma inhaler. Under the agreement with the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) he would not be allowed to start, however, it was too late to replace him on the Astana line-up, and the team decided to start him. He made it through to the stage 9 team time trial from Vannes to Plumelec but then didn’t start the following day due to illness.
He made a return at the peloton in August with a victory in the opening stage at the Tour of Denmark and went on to place fourth in the time trail at the Eneco Tour before competing in a series of one-day race in preparation for Worlds. He also raced for The Netherlands in the time trial in Richmond and placed a respectable eighth.
"I have been working my way up towards Worlds," Boom said. "The Tour de France didn’t go perfectly for me, with all the cortisol shit, and then I was sick at the Tour, so in the end… I’m a little bit more fresh because I didn’t finish the Tour.
"I was preparing for this part of the season at the Eneco Tour and working my way up to the World Championships. I’m looking forward to racing in Richmond and doing my best."
Looking ahead to the 2016 season, Boom will once again compete in the Astana outfit and plans to have a strong Spring Classics campaign before turning his attention to a possible start at the Giro d’Italia. The Italian Grand Tour is set to start in The Netherlands with cities Apeldoorn, Nijmegen and Arnhem to host three stages before the transfer to Italy.
"We will need to speak about next season in November and December," Boom said. "The Giro starts in Holland next year so perhaps the team will want me to focus on that.
"For sure, the Classics will be my main goal."