Does Lars have a nickname?
We’re voting for “Sonic” as in Lars Sonic Boom because that’s the way he hammered the prologue of the Duel in the Desert, the technical 2.5 kilometer test around Doha, Qatar.
Boom, who’s already in top form thanks to his winter season season of cyclocross racing, put his power and bike handling skills to perfect use in clocking a time of 3:07 — fast enough to beat a man wearing a rainbow Leopard — think about how weird that sounds.
Time Trial World Champion and Leopard Fabian Cancellara was four seconds behind the sonic Boom while Tom Veelers (Skil – Shimano) beat out Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) for third place.
The Rabobank Boom nailed the corners, conquering the shifting wind conditions and took several risks on a course that even threw in a few cobblestones. “Of course you have to take risks in the prologue, you gain seconds that way,” said Boom, explaining the obvious. Why the cobblestones? Because Qatar in the local dialiect means “Belgium of the Dunes.”
You know Boom was thrilled because Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani rewards each stage winner with 10,000 barrels of crude oil and a tanker to take it back home.
It was another cyclocross fan, Tom Boonen who took top honors among the sprinters. Boonen’s seventh place speaks well for his chances in the upcoming stages but like all the other riders, he admitted the technical course was a challenge.
“It was really hard to find a good rhythm, you were always bouncing from the left to the right and the wind was blowing from all sides, so it wasn’t easy to find a good pace,” said Boonen.
Boonen has won the Big Q three times and Twisted Spoke thinks he’s going for the Desert Double: overall victory in Qatar and the Tour of Oman. Which is like winning Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in a crazy sort of way.
One particular star had a terrible time establishing any rhythm. Mark Cavendish crashed half way through the prologue, then waited on a slow bike change and finished dead last.
In the recent Tour Down Under, the Manxman waged a furious battle with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) to win the “slowpoke sprinter” jersey. This now makes two races where the British rider has finished last — you gotta love his style, he’s either 1st or 126th, with no in between. Boy Racer or Boy Lanterne Rouge.
Last year Cavendish has dental problems, this year, it’s rubber issues — as it, keep rubber on road. Crashes in both the Tour Down Under and Qatar mean a rough and slow start for the fastest man in the peloton. No worries though, he will still own France.
Meanwhile Lars Boom is thinking big time. He likes this freaky stage race in the middle of nowhere. Yes, the Race To The Oasis, the Hell of the Middle East, The Big Sandy, Le Grande Sand Dune. “I think tomorrow will bring a lot of wind so we will try to defend the jersey,” said Boom.
Revered Arab cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam was at the start in Doha and had this to say about Boom: “He looks like a camel with two rockets attached. He fears nothing — not even the sharp blade of a sharfa in his eyeball.”
Twisted Spoke thinks that means, well, that Boom is ready … and sharp.