By Agence France Presse
Former world road race champion Tom Boonen is reported to be launching an audacious bid for an Olympic medal as part of a new Belgian team-pursuit squad in Beijing this summer.
According to La Derniere Heure newspaper, the one-day specialist, one of cycling’s best-known faces, will team up with Gert Steegmans, Sebastien Rosseler and Wouter Weylandt in a bid to score what would be a major upset.
Australia holds the Olympic team-pursuit title, having won gold in Athens ahead of Great Britain and Spain.
Boonen admitted his quartet would only have weeks to prepare their bid for the 4km event.
But he added: “If the four of us really get going … I’m 100 percent sure we can come up with something in Beijing.
“The main obstacle in our way is learning the technique in a matter of three weeks, because we won’t have the time to train together before August. But I believe that myself, Steegmans and Rosseler are the three fastest riders in Belgium, Europe and who knows where else.”
Belgium’s track coach, Michel Vaarten, said he will soon be contacting the quartet to decide whether their bid to stun the specialists has any chance.
But he warned: “The team pursuit is a very specific event. It’s not just a question of pushing hard on the pedals. Things have to be measured right down to the very last millimeter. But at the same time we can’t ignore such impassioned interest from those riders.”
Ten teams will contend the team pursuit in Beijing – the host nation, the reigning world champions from the upcoming championships at Manchester this March, and the eight best teams in the World Cup rankings.
During this season’s World Cup events Belgium will not be represented by Boonen and company, since all four riders will be busy on the road with their Quick Step team.