Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma - Quickstep) held a press conference in Milan ahead of his tilt at a first-ever Milan-San Remo title where the Belgian hopes his equipment will give him an edge over his rivals.
Boonen has returned to form in 2012, following a frustrating 2011 when he was dogged by injury and bad luck, and has already collected five wins. He's hoping that he can turn his previous two podium appearances (2007 – 3rd, 2010 – 2nd) into another classics victory. Speaking at the McLaren showroom in Milan, the 31-year-old said that his rig for this weekend will go a long way to putting him in position for the expected bunch sprint to the finish.
"Specialized Venge McLaren is the fastest I've ridden, that's the main thing," Boonen said. "It saves you a lot of energy. It saves you about 25 watts which is pretty huge, especially on long stages like Milan - San Remo. Seven hours on the bike, if you save as much energy as possible it will give you extra speed on the finish. The characters of the bike is it's very strong on the bottom bracket. It's a perfect bike for me. I like it."
Tom Boonen's McLaren Venge
Boonen collected his 100th win on the second stage of Paris – Nice, showing that he was on schedule to perform well in the classics but he explained that it was not the racing itself which makes the difference heading into Saturday’s event.
"After Paris-Nice the recovery really helps you. It's not the racing, it's the recovery. I had a good week now and I hope to have a good result Saturday, and then it's off to Belgium for the cobbled Classics."
Boonen’s chances of victory in the 2011 Milan – San Remo was shattered by an attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas – Cannondale) on the Poggio which created a select group which would eventually contest the sprint finish. He is hoping that this time around, a bigger group will make it to the line with experience making all the difference for his own chances.
Tom Boonen with Formula 1 driver Jarno Trulli and MotoGP rider Ben Spies
"My ideal scenario is crossing the finish line first," Boonen said. "The way I'd like to do it is not really important. I've been there only a few times. Milan-San Remo is always a nervous race which ends up in a field sprint every time. But the ideal scenario is when you win. Everything can go right and everything can go wrong. It's a race where you really need to be anxious of the details all day long. The details make the difference in the end. I hope I have the experience now to do a good result. I hope now I will have the luck a little bit on my side, then I won't be very far from victory.
"The last two Milan-Sam Remos have been very hard races," Boonen continued. "They've been sprints but with a really elite group. Maybe this year the weather will be better, but I think maybe it can also be bad weather in San Remo. I saw a few forecasts say that maybe we'll have some rain at the end. At the end it's a hard race, even if you go to the line with 70 guys it will still be one of the strongest guys that will win."