Questioning Tom Boonen
One of the strongest teams this year has been the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad, winning 22 races with nine different riders thus far. With such strength and depth, surely they will be hard to beat in any classic, but Kelly still had questions surrounding Tom Boonen before the Belgian’s two-win weekend at E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem.
“I think the question mark there is Tom Boonen,” said Kelly. “Again at San Remo, I think on the Poggio he was suffering a bit, a bit off the pace, not really to the fore. I don’t know if it’s that 260km distance. It’s ok winning Qatar, winning stages of San Luis or the semi-classics. Chavanel has come on a long way in the past two years. He has made big steps forward at Flanders and Roubaix but the question remains whether Boonen is able to do it again.
“I noticed in Paris-Nice that Boonen was there in the finale of a stage and had the perfect opportunity, where it finished with a 3km climb and Boonen was riding on the front for 5km before they got to the climb. I don’t know what the tactic was there. There was no reason for it. Leipheimer was third in the GC, there was a bunch of 100 riders or more coming to the finish so why didn’t he use it as preparation for Milan-San Remo? Why didn’t Boonen use that? I even said it in the television commentary, I said he should be using it as preparation for Milan-San Remo. It was like the Poggio. He should just go for those hills, get in there and try and stay with those guys. That is the best preparation. But he was doing other things, riding on the front at the bottom. Then, when it started to kick up, after 500m he was going out the rear door.”