Boonen dedicates win to friendClose
Tom Boonen dedicates his win in stage one of Paris-Nice to a close friend who died last week, and saPIC BY TDWSPORT.COM After taking yesterday's opening road stage of Paris-Nice, Quick Step sprinter Tom Boonen dedicated his victory to a close friend who died last week. "This victory is for my good friend Dieter Urbain, who died last week of a heart attack while skiing in Germany," Boonen said after the podium presentation in Chabris. "I promised his father that I would win a stage as soon as I could for him. Winning a stage in Paris-Nice also adds another level of achievement to my career. I had my eye on this finish. Thanks to [team manager] Wilfried Peeters I knew that this finish was dangerous, but favourable to me. "I am really satisfied with the strength my team showed. The peloton would never have seen [breakaways] Fabien Sanchez and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano again if it wasn't for the huge amount of work done by Kevin de Weert and Bram Tankink, and also Marc Lotz. Hats off too to Kevin Hulsmans, who tracked Thomas Voeckler down when he attacked under the kilometre kite." Boonen also thanked his experienced lead-out man, Guido Trenti, and said he thought that he had the best lead-out team in the world at the moment. This was said clearly with a view to yesterday's result in Lucca, where Alessandro Petacchi and his Fassa Bortolo 'train' were outwitted by Mario Cipollini. Boonen is one of the few sprinters using Paris-Nice as his main preparation for Milan-San Remo on March 19. "I will be looking at the course next Monday. I will do all I can to win there, starting by checking out the key strategic points. I didn't do this on the previous two occasions I rode," Boonen explained. Boonen's team-mate Michael Rogers was one of the many riders caught up in the crash eight kilometres from the finish, for which Davitamon-Lotto's Fred Rodriguez was fingered. "A few riders fell right in front of me - there was nothing I could do to avoid them," said Rogers. "I fell too but thankfully I didn't hurt myself. I got back up straight away and on to my bike that was in a terrible condition and carried on. This certainly isn't the end of the Paris-Nice for me - I was just unlucky. The difficult stages are still to come." - Quick Step also have a strong team riding the second ProTour event, Tirreno-Adriatico, which starts tomorrow (Wednesday). Defending Tirreno champion Paolo Bettini leads their eight-strong line-up, which also includes 2003 winner Filippo Pozzato. "I'll be taking Tirreno a day at a time, hoping for weather conditions that enable me to perfect myself for Milan-San-Remo," said Bettini. Tirreno will be an important test for Pozzato, who has just got over the flu. "I've been slowly getting better over the past few days. Thankfully, the cough I had has gone. I'm not on 100% form - I'm missing the race rhythm, but I'm improving," said the Italian. One key rider missing from Quick Step's Tirreno team is Luca Paolini, who has been struggling with inflammation in his right knee. Paolini is set to halt his training for the next seven days and undergo a course of physiotherapy to treat the problem.