By Andrew Hood
Tom Boonen liked his West Coast adventure so much last year he’s heading back for a second crack at the Tour of California.
The Quick Step star told VeloNews that the hard week of racing at California last year helped pave the way for his second career Paris-Roubaix victory two months later.
“(Organizers) didn’t even have to ask. I want to go back to California,” Boonen said during an interview Friday. “I really liked the race last year. The quality of racing and the fans were great.”
Boonen loves California roads and quickly won a stage in his California tour debut last year, but the week of hard racing was just what he needed to hone his form ahead of the spring classics.
The big Belgian admits that he likes nothing more than race miles ahead of the most important week of his racing schedule with April’s spring classics.
The California tour serves up just enough distance and difficulty to fit perfectly into Boonen’s classics training schedule.
“It’s a good race. To do 1200km in February, you can’t find that anywhere else on the calendar,” he said. “You feel kind of funny for about a week after the travel, but it worked out perfect for me ahead of the classics.”
Boonen said this year’s scheduling of California (February 14-22) will make it difficult for him to be firing at all cylinders in time for the opening weekend of the Belgian classics, with Het Volk (February 28, now called Het Nieuwsblad) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (March 1).
“It’s not easy to fly back from the United States and be ready to race. We only arrive on Tuesday and then have to be ready to race Saturday at Het Volk (sic),” he said. “The recovery takes about a week, after that, it was really good.”
Boonen will make his season debut at Tour of Qatar (February 1-6), where he’ll square off against archrival Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road).
After that, he’ll head to California.
Boonen just has one request: “I hope it doesn’t rain as much this year.”
Check back later to VeloNews.com for an in-depth interview with Boonen.