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"Niki and Tom Boonen are the leaders," Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad, "Stybar is our third option."

Photo: ASO / B. Bade










03.04.2014 @ 08:30 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

A highly promising start to this season after a truly disastrous 2013 year suggested that Tom Boonen will be back to his best when the Flemish classics season kicks off in earnest. However, the personal tragedy combined with a thumb injury obtained in Dwars door Vlaanderen made up for the one of his career’s worst build-ups towards cobbled monuments and will force the Belgian to share a leadership role in Omega Pharma-Quick Step with Niki Terpstra, absolutely flying at the moment.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders animated all the cobbled events so far this season and tried to transform their undisputable strength in numbers into victories, successfully in case of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Dwars door Vlaanderen and very likely also Driedaagse De Panne, courtesy of respectively Boonen and Terpstra.


Considering those circumstances, it comes as no surprise that they are considered main favorites to take the spoils in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday, however, Terpstra emphasizes that despite having an extremely strong team to their disposal, they cannot underestimate a stiff competition they’re going to face.


“We have a good team, but there are also some other good riders,” he told Cyclingnews


“We’ve seen Sagan winning easily, Cancellara is in good shape and there are even more riders who can win, so it’s going to be a big battle.”


Excellent condition showed by the 29-year old Dutchman in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke and Driedaagse De Panne – in which he currently rides, combined with Boonen’s preparation period marred by family problems and late injury raised many questions about Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s leadership for cobbled monuments.


Terpstra, certainly aware of how impressively he currently rides, remained reluctant to call himself a captain of the Belgian outfit and preferred to emphasize the importance of a teamwork during the decisive moments of the race.


“I hope that we’re in the final together actually and then we can play the game. It’s pretty simple; we have to be on the front the last time up the Paterberg and Kwaremont. Hopefully we’re in the front group.”


Indeed, the Belgian team certainly would have several cards to play as it can’t be ruled out that, despite all the unfavorable circumstances, Boonen will live up to expectations and in-form Zdenek Stybar should excel on the hilly cobbled parcours too.


Thus, it came as no surprise that Omega Pharma-Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed such speculations and named Terpstra and Boonen co-captains for both Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, with Stybar being given a free role as their third strong card to play.


"Niki and Tom Boonen are the leaders," Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad, "Stybar is our third option."



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