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by Shane Stokes
April 15, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
He was forced to miss the Classics due to a bad crash in Paris-Nice, but his Etixx-QuickStep team has now confirmed that Tom Boonen will be able to return to action in the upcoming Presidential Tour of Turkey. Boonen suffered a dislocated shoulder on March 9 and has not raced since, but will get going again on April 16.
He will join team-mate Mark Cavendish there, one year after the Manxman took four stages plus the points classification.
“I’m very excited to start the next part of the season,” stated Boonen on Monday. “It will be nice to go to the Tour of Turkey, a race I’ve never done before and see what happens. For sure I will be suffering a little bit, but it will be useful for the Giro.
“As for the Giro, I’m happy to be at the start for the first time in my career to support the team strategy in function of Rigo [Rigoberto Uran]. This is also a really nice new experience for me. I haven’t raced a lot in Italy in my career due to conflicts with my big objectives. Now, I have that chance.
“I know I have a lot of supporters in Italy. The Giro has great tradition and it will be great to race there and fight for the Maglia Rosa together with Uran.”
According to the team’s Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag, Boonen has been working very hard to return. He said that it was important for the Belgian to refocus his sights on other objectives.
“Riding Tour of Turkey, and then the Giro for the first time in his career, is turning out to be a new challenge for him. He will be an important part of the team strategy. The experience of Tom will be an important element in a few key race situations, as we will go to the Giro with Rigoberto Uran as our leader.”
He added that his post-Giro programme would be determined in view of how Turkey and Italy went.
Meanwhile Cavendish’s programme has been confirmed, with Turkey to mark his first race since Gent-Wevelgem. He will then race the Tour of California, the Tour de Suisse, the British national championships and the Tour de France.
He said on Tuesday that a decision was made to replicate his programme for 2014. “Last year it was a successful period with victories at Tour of Turkey, Tour of California, and Tour de Suisse,” he explained.
“I also went into Le Tour with a really good feeling. But unfortunately I crashed in the first stage, so everything was over in a second. Of course it’s a pity.”
While he said that he didn’t like to miss the Giro, he said that he has a set goal for later in the summer. He presumably wants to help the fatigue that can build up in a three week race, wishing to ensure he is ready for the Tour.
“I have great memories of that race and I hope to come back to the Giro in the future and do well again,” he said, reassuring fans of that race. “But as of this year I want to focus on the optimal preparation for the Tour de France, and going into the races to return to the high level of performance I had at the beginning of the year.”
Aldag said that he had faith the programme was right. “We believe based on last year and his other career performances that this is the right race schedule for Mark to be in the best shape for Le Tour de France.”