Boonen to make audacious Olympic track bid - report

Quick.Step quartet in Beijing?

Former world road race champion Tom Boonen is reported to be launching an audacious bid for an Olympic medal - as part of a new Belgian track pursuit team in Beijing this summer.

According to La Derniere Heure newspaper the one-day specialist, currently one of cycling's best known faces, will team up with Gert Steegmans, Sébastien Rosseler and Wouter Weylandt in a bid to score what would be a major Olympic upset. Currently, Australia hold the Olympic track pursuit title having won gold in Athens ahead of Great Britain and Spain.

Boonen admitted his quartet would only have weeks to prepare their bid for the four-kilometre event, in which four riders relay each other in a bid to beat their on-track rivals to the finish line.

But he said: "If the four of us really get going ... I'm 100 percent sure we can come up with something in Beijing.

"The main obstacle in our way is learning the technique in a matter of three weeks, because we won't have the time to train together before August. But I believe that myself, Steegmans and Rosseler are the three fastest riders in Belgium, Europe and who knows where else."

Belgium's track coach Michel Vaarten said he will soon be contacting the quartet to decide whether their bid to stun the specialists has any chance.

But he warned: "The team pursuit is a very specific event. It's not just a question of pushing hard on the pedals. Things have to be measured right down to the very last millimetre. But at the same time we can't ignore such impassioned interest from those riders."

A total of 10 teams will contend the team pursuit title in Beijing - hosts China, the reigning world champions from the upcoming championships at Manchester this March, and the eight best teams in the World Cup rankings.

During this season's World Cup events Belgium will not be represented by Boonen and co., since all four riders will be busy on the road with their Quick Step team.

© AFP 2007

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