Boonen calm ahead of Flanders

Boonen calm


Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Boonen won two World Tour races on home soil last week, E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem, and is gunning for his third victory in one of the monuments of the European professional calendar.

"After my victories at E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem the first part of the season, it's already good," Boonen said.

"But we will start from zero. The tradition of the race, it's important. We have to try and do our best, always."

Boonen won Flanders in 2005 and 2006 while Radioshack-Nissan's Swiss star took the honours in 2010 but both face a different route this year.

The Muur van Geraardsbergen - once the decisive climb - has been axed and there are now 16 climbs or hellingen on the route with the one-two punch of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg cobbled climbs tackled three times on a finishing loop.

Boonen said he is unsure if the new course is more difficult than the 2011 course.

"I don't exactly know how the race will be," Boonen said. "It's the first time we've raced on the parcours. I can't say if this is better than last year.

"For sure it will be a fight - man against man or small group finish. We have a great team, but with a race like this a great team does not guarantee success. We have to be ready to fight each meter and try and get victory at the finish line."

Boonen acknowledged his respect for Spartacus who completed the E3, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix hat-trick in 2010.

"I know it's an item talking about me and Fabian," Boonen said. "I never rode a race to beat somebody else by themselves, but to win. For Fabian it will be the same. Between us there is a mutual respect. We are always fighting in such a way. We don't have to forget there are a lot of other riders that can be in the final."

Riders from the home country are always highly-motivated for Belgium's biggest event in the cycling calendar and have won over 70 per cent of the race's 95 editions so far.

Stijn Devolder is also looking for a hat-trick of victories, after winning in 2008 and 2009, and Vacansoleil have a one-two punch with Bjorn Leuekemans. The home fans will also have hopes for Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) and the BMC duo of Greg Van Amaraet and Philippe Gilbert.

Alessandro Ballan of BMC is another former winner in the frame while his fellow Italian Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Slovakia's Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) have been in impressive form in recent weeks.

Team Sky will be led by Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha with team-mate Ian Stannard being Britain's best hope.

Most wins – Riders

3 Achiel Buysse (BEL) 1940,1941,1943

3 Fiorenzo Magni (ITA) 1949,1950,1951

3 Eric Leman (BEL) 1970,1972,1973

3 Johan Museeuw (BEL) 1993,1995,1998

2 Gérard Debaets (BEL) 1924,1927

2 Romain Gijssels (BEL) 1931,1932

2 Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL) 1944,1946

2 Briek Schotte (BEL) 1942,1948

2 Rik Van Looy (BEL) 1959,1962

2 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1969,1975

2 Walter Godefroot (BEL) 1968,1978

2 Jan Raas (NED) 1979,1983

2 Edwig Van Hooydonck (BEL) 1989,1991

2 Peter Van Petegem (BEL) 1999,2003

2 Tom Boonen (BEL) 2005,2006

2 Stijn Devolder (BEL) 2008,2009

Most wins – Countries

67 Belgium

10 Italy

9 Netherlands

3 France

2 Switzerland

1 England

1 Germany

1 Denmark

1 Germany

Back-to-back wins

3 Fiorenzo Magni (ITA) 1949-1951

2 Romain Gijssels (BEL) 1931-1932

2 Achiel Buysse (BEL) 1940-1941

2 Eric Leman (BEL) 1972-1973

2 Tom Boonen (BEL) 2005-2006

2 Stijn Devolder (BEL) 2008-2009

Most podium finishes

8 Briek Schotte (BEL)

8 Johan Museeuw (BEL)

5 Eddy Merckx (BEL)

4 Jan Raas (NED)

4 Andrei Tchmil (BEL)

4 Peter Van Petegem (BEL)

3 Jules Van Hevel (BEL)

3 Romain Gijssels (BEL)

3 Achiel Buysse (BEL)

3 Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)

3 Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL)

3 Rik Van Looy (BEL)

3 Eric Leman (BEL)

3 Frans Verbeeck (BEL)

3 Walter Godefroot (BEL)

3 Marc Demeyer (BEL)

3 Sean Kelly (IRL)

3 Edwig Van Hooydonck (BEL)

3 Leif Hoste (BEL)

3 Tom Boonen (BEL)

Most finishes

16 Briek Schotte (BEL)

16 George Hincapie (USA)

15 Adrie van der Poel (NED)

15 Johan Museeuw (BEL)

15 Frédéric Guesdon (FRA)

14 Hennie Kuiper (NED)

14 Rolf Sørensen (DEN)

14 Maarten den Bakker (NED)

14 Erik Zabel (GER)

13 Marc Sergeant (BEL)

13 Wilfried Peeters (BEL)

13 Franco Ballerini (ITA)

13 Peter Van Petegem (BEL)

Oldest winners

37-071 Andrei Tchmil (BEL) 2000

35-335 Andrea Tafi (ITA) 2002

34-281 Walter Godefroot (BEL) 1978

33-078 Peter Van Petegem (BEL) 2003

33-024 Steffen Wesemann (GER) 2004

32-223 Gianluca Bortolami (ITA) 2001

32-174 Johan Museeuw (BEL) 1998

32-061 Hennie Kuiper (NED) 1981

31-351 Rolf Sørensen (DEN) 1997

30-333 Nick Nuyens (BEL) 2011

Youngest winners

19-206 Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL) 1944

21-104 Achiel Buysse (BEL) 1940

21-209 Julien Delbecque (BEL) 1925

21-217 Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL) 1946

22-130 Cees Bal (NED) 1974

22-137 Achiel Buysse (BEL) 1941

22-141 Jef Dervaes (BEL) 1929

22-199 Frans Bonduel (BEL) 1930

22-211 Briek Schotte (BEL) 1942

22-241 Edwig Van Hooydonck (BEL) 1989

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