Explaining his surprising sprint victory over Andre Greipel in stage two in Qatar, Tom Boonen delivered a one-word summation: “timing.”
Ah yes, what a difference a year makes.
Last season was spent dealing with infections (near loss of arm!), injuries and bad crashes that eventually wiped out his classics season. No Flanders, no Paris-Roubaix, no chance to take on arch rival Fabian Cancellara and piss off old man Roger De Vlaeminck.
Timing is critical — it sort of wraps up good fortune, momentum, uninterrupted training, confidence and good mojo — all of which Boonen had in scare supply in 2013.
However, so far so good on timing here in the Desert Duel, the Big Q, the Tour of Qatar. Boonen not only had the legs but the confidence to sit on Greipel’s wheel until the final 100 meters before nipping him at the line. Gorilla killed, wake up Spartacus!
Fans all over the world are now united in fervent prayer: please Cycling Gods, keep Boonen and Cancellara safe and bring them to Flanders and Roubaix so we may once again bear witness to their titanic battles.
After the Qatar time trial yesterday where he finished fourth, Cancellara admitted he was still weary from his efforts in the Tour of Dubai. Meanwhile Boonen is already flying and the scary part for Cancellara is that Boonen is not only on form but has resurrected an old weapon: his kick.
“I knew I had that 100 meter punch,” said Boonen. “That’s what I’ve been working on since I started training. It was to get my punch back, that I’ve maybe lose a little bit. But it’s still there, you just have to wake it up a little bit.”
Should Cancellara find himself dueling Boonen on the final lap in the Roubaix velodrome, it’s unlikely he’d win like he did against young Belgian talent Sep Vanmarcke in last year’s thrilling finale.
In the 135k stage from Dukhan to Mesaieed, Tornado Tom showed he is well and truly back. Famed Middle Eastern cycling commentator Abdul Al Salaam sees a rededicated fast-man this year. “He is like a hungry jackal that rips all the meat from the bone,” said Salaam. “It was a worthy feast and he wiped his mouth with the blood-stained jersey of his victim.”
Yes, timing is good and it may even get better. That would be scary.