OPQS perennial leader Tom Boonen, after taking a period of rest to recover from an injury to his hip, will be at the start of the Belgian Championship.
“I’m feeling OK now after three days without training, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of last week,” Boonen said. “I started training again on Monday. Day-by-day I increased the intensity of my training. Everything is OK on my hip, even if not 100 percent yet. I still have some fluid under the skin, and I think it will take a long time to heal completely. But it doesn’t hurt for the moment, so that’s the most important thing. I have only a small problem on my right knee as consequence of the problem on my hip, where likely the injury is touching a nerve that impacts on my quadricep muscle. But I don’t think it will affect me on Sunday during the race.”
Boonen has already seen video of the parcours and is prepared for Sunday.
“It’s flat, but as usual on this kind of parcours we will do many laps,” Boonen said. “So I will have many chances to perform recon during the race itself in the early laps. In a race like that, it’s always hard to predict what can happen. Everything is possible, especially if the weather condition will be bad. We don’t know the forecast for Sunday yet. If there is bad weather the race will change completely, especially the last part of the race. With wind and rain, it will be harder and normal and you can pay for that kind of difficulty going into the final. If it’s good weather, the final will be much more open. But that’s the thing when you ride a completely flat parcours. The danger can be everywhere. Last year the parcours was so difficult it was easier to define race tactics. This year is different. We have a good team there, but we aren’t the only ones with that situation. There are maybe 15 guys who have a good chance to be there in the final. Strong guys like Vanmarcke, Gilbert, Van Avermaet will be there but there is always a possibility for a few surprises. Concerning us, it’s necessary for us to be attentive and watch for every move that takes place in the final part of the race. It would be stupid to wait only for the final sprint even if it’s of course the best option for us. We have to keep our eyes open and make sure there are no dangerous guys in the breakaway, or maybe we can put a guy in the breakaway. We especially have to pay attention for the final three laps of the race. It will be a hard race with an open final and we have to be focused well before the finish line.”