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Quick Step’s Tom Boonen, Gert Steegmans and Sylvain Chavanel say they are ready for the start of the Belgian cycling season at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
“After a long time we’re back racing in Belgium,” Boonen told reporters at a news conference Friday in Kortrijk, Belgium. “Tomorrow and Sunday (at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne) I hope I have two good races. The route change has made the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad more intense than it’s been in the past. Our team, however, has everything it takes to get good results. I’m in good shape. I like the Omloop and I’m missing one from my palmares. It would be nice if we can stand out as major players.”
Radio protest averted at Omloop
Omloop preview by Andrew Hood
Boonen said many of his competitors have shown good form already this season.
“There are lots of riders in top shape; we’ve already seen them in Qatar and Oman,” he said. Boonen won the first stage at Qatar, but was unable to match Garmin-Cervelo’s Heinrich Haussler and HTC-Highroad’s Mark Renshaw later in the week.
“(Phillipe) Gilbert was also great in the Volta ao Algarve,” said Chavanel, “but we’re ready to battle it out. Personally I’m still not at 100 percent like many other riders that will be competing tomorrow, but I want to have a good race.”
Steegmans agreed, and after the press conference he went to check out the Omloop course with Chavanel and sports director Rik Van Slycke. “As always, it’s going to be a tough race,” said Steegmans. “We’ll have to be careful and stay on our toes in every situation, especially in the last kilometers of the race.”
The forecast for the race start in Ghent Saturday is for rain with a high temperature of 48 °F. Wind is forecast from the SSW at 18 to 21 mph.