PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Michael Boogerd seemed to come down with a serious case of fear of performance only two days before the Amstel Gold Race. The Rabobank rider, who won the race in 1999 and has finished second the past two years, is usually one of the favourites for the Dutch race. But this year his confidence is failing him, writes Susanne Horsdal.
"I miss the good feeling I've had the previous years in the days leading up to the Gold Race. This season I haven't had one second where I've felt really good on the bike. I haven't been completely bad, but that super feeling I've had the other years just hasn't been there," Boogerd wrote in his column in Friday's edition of the Dutch paper De Telegraaf. Boogerd added: "This close to the first important classic the insecurity gnaws."
This year Boogerd has had a different program leading up to the Amstel Gold Race and becuse of that he hasn't participated in Brabantse Pijl or the Tour of Flanders as he usually does. Instead he participated in the Criterium International and the Tour of the Basque Country, but without booking the results he had hoped for.
"I wasn't happy with my performance in Criterium International, whereas it was somewhat better in the Tour of the Basque Country. The time trial was an encouragement, yet I lost 12 seconds on Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin, two of the other top favourites for the coming classics," continued Boogerd, who feels that he is missing the results needed to hang his hopes on.
"Of course I know that a certain nervousness is needed leading up to an important race. But I've never started the Amstel Gold Race this insecure," he concluded.
Should Boogerd fail, the Dutch Rabobank team has other serious contenders for their home turf race in riders such as Erik Dekker and Oscar Freire. They will be supported by an interesting line up of experienced and new riders including Thomas Dekker, who finished an impressive second in the Criterium International and is replacing Gerben Lwik, who hasn't recovered from his crash in the Tour of Flanders.