Quick Step’s Tom Boonen and four teammates rode 150 kilometers of the Tour of Flanders course on Wednesday, and called the exercise “quite useful.”
Boonen, who won the race in 2004 and 2005, said the changes have made the route more difficult.
“The changes will affect the aspect of the race somewhat … Now there are new stretches in cobblestone with very narrow streets, after which you face the Molenberg, which has been moved from 1st to 10th challenge of the day to make the race even harder and more selective. It’s going to be a discriminating race where the best are going to have to stay ahead,” Boonen said in a team communique.
“The road terrain and the cobblestones are in good condition. We’ll have to keep an eye on the weather in the upcoming days. In case of rain some stretches will definitely become more challenging and wind could be a decisive factor, as it has been in the past.”
Boonen said there are many favorites.
“There are some riders who already proved their fitness and their attitude towards cobblestones last weekend, like Cancellara, Flecha and Breschel. But I can’t forget Pozzato, who is always very competitive in these races and is pedalling quite strongly, or Gilbert, who’s always able to come up with important moves. There are also quite a few strong collectives like Rabobank and Saxo Bank that could play an important role,” he said.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting and open. On our part, we’re going to try to give it our all to try and win this marvellous race once again. The weight of the predictions? No, they don’t scare me. We’ve been among the favourites in these races for quite some time now. We’re used to riding under pressure and in the last few years Devolder and I have managed to win no less than four times.”