Supersonic (Lars) Boom for Roubaix
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Apr 9, 2015 – Sixth in the Tour of Flanders, Lars Boom has fully recovered from crashes at E3 Harelbeke and Dwars Door Vlaanderen to rediscover his best form ahead of Paris-Roubaix. It all augurs well for the Dutchman’s return to the paves over which he rode to a Tour de France stage victory last summer.
One morning last summer, the ninth of July to be exact, Lars Boom woke to the sound of raindrops battering the plains of northern France and Belgium and rubbed his hands. That day, the Tour de France would set out from Ypres in Belgium and tackle thirteen sections of treacherous cobblestones or pavés en route to a stage finish at the mouth of the infamous Arenberg Forest. A former cyclo-cross world champion, Boom had competed in five editions of Paris-Roubaix up to that point, each of them in dry weather. On his début in 2010, he had finished outside the time limit. A 12th place in 2011, 6th in 2012, 14th in 2013 and 37th in 2014 followed, disappointing pundits who had viewed Boom’s cyclocross pedigree as a guarantee of future glories. On this day, though, in a freezing monsoon, Boom finally tamed the cobbles and the weather to claim a spectacular, unforgettable victory.
“My cyclocross experience definitely helped me to win that stage,” he explains. “That’s where I learned the right technique for handling a bike in muddy conditions. A wet Paris-Roubaix would definitely give me an advantage. I’m more confident than most riders in those conditions. Having said that, I barely ride any cyclocross anymore, which is also why I’m not as good as I once was in time trials. I haven’t done any cyclocross over the last two winters; my focus has been on training camps and the early season stage races (Tour Down Under, Dubaï Tour and Tour de Qatar), also because the general standard on the cyclocross scene has gone up a lot. I couldn’t even contend for the Dutch cyclocross championship now, with Lars Van der Haar and Mathieu Van der Poel riding. The intensity of cyclocross races now would bring me into form much too quickly in the year, given that my main priority is the Classics.”
Having signed for Astana in the winter, the 29-year-old Boom knows that he’ll most likely be employed as Vincenzo Nibali’s guard dog when the Tour peloton hits the pavé in July. It’s no surprise, then, that he wants to seize his opportunity and leadership role on Sunday. “You can win Paris-Roubaix riding for any team,” he says. “Etixx-Quick Step isn’t the only team in the race. You just need a bit of luck, which I haven’t had up until now in Paris-Roubaix. I know the cobbled sectors perfectly, their names and their numbers, because I’ve even studied them myself, outside of the route recces with the team. I don’t care how I win, although I’d love to ride into the velodrome alone, having attacked and got away on the Carrefour de l’Arbre.”
It may be pure coincidence that “Boom” meets “tree” in Dutch… like “Arbre” in French. Or perhaps it really is an omen. “I’m happy with my sixth place in Flanders,” Boom picks up. “When Niki Terpstra and Alexander Kristoff went away, I thought about changing my bike because one of my tyres was deflating slightly. But my performance bodes well for Paris-Roubaix. There’s still some hip pain left over from my crash in Dwars Door Vlaanderen, but I’ve been able to put the finishing touches to my preparation for Paris-Roubaix.”
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