Milano - Sanremo: Boonen and Cavendish Press Conference
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team riders Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen met with the press on Friday afternoon, two days prior to 298km Milano - Sanremo. Cavendish and Boonen will be racing together for the first time in 2013. Below are responses of Cavendish and Boonen to several questions.
On his condition during Paris-Nice, leading into Milano - Sanremo:
Paris-nice was what I thought it would be. I started out OK like I thought I would, and I ended up a little bit better, but it was also a really demanding race. Everyone was really tired like always at Paris - Nice at the end. As for my confidence returning, it was never gone. I knew what was missing, and I think I just followed the steps that are necessary to get back on the old level again.
On what makes Milan - Sanremo such a challenging race:
You either have to be the fastest guy, or the best descender, or the best guy on the climb. Until now I've never been one of these three. I could have won it one time when I got 3rd, but that year I really had the legs to do it, but the other times I was always in the right spot. I mean when I got 2nd it was just Freire that was just stronger.
On targeting Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, and the importance of racing Milano - Sanremo:
Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are just races that suit me better. I focus more on them, maybe that's true, but even then I think if I focused 100 percent on Milan – San Remo as I did in the past, it didn't go as well. It's a a difficult race to win.
Milano - Sanremo is the next step in the evolution to my target races. It's not the biggest objective of the Spring Classics, but I think maybe I will be ready to do a good race on Sunday. I've started to feel like my normal self and it is about time. But I have no goals set up. I want to do as good as possible. It will be a very successful race if I pass the first portion with the first group, but of course I think in the back of your mind you're thinking about a little bit more. I've had some good memories of this race. I think with Sagan, it will be very hard to win this race. Still, we're thinking about a good tactic for Sunday. I don't think we can follow Moser on the climb. That's one problem. The other option is to beat Sagan in the sprint. I think we have to focus on that. But how we will do it, that's our little secret.
On what weather conditions he hopes to have at Milano - Sanremo:
Not the weather that we will probably have on Sunday. I prefer nice weather. I don't prefer the rain. Not at all. If the weather will be like they say it is, 5 or 6 degrees and rain, it's going to be 50 percent of the riders that have been eliminated already. From the 50 percent that are still in the race, another 50 percent will crash (laughs). Not much left. What I mean is bad weather will possibly eliminate many riders from contending.
On how he is feeling so far with OPQS:
I'm happier than ever. I'm really, really happy with Omega Pharma – Quick-Step. You know, it's been a successful start to the year and I'm really, really confident with the team. In any aspect of life, if you're happy, you're going to perform better.
On being one of several options OPQS has for Milano - Sanremo:
I think that's just one card we can play. I think it gives me an edge if it comes for the sprint, being the fastest man, but we have so many cards we can play — Chavanel for example was incredible at Paris-Nice. I think we've got a really strong team, but I think it will take a lot to outwit Cannondale this year. This many options has made me the most relaxed I've been between Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan - San Remo before.
On a lack of team pressure to be a favorite at Milano - Sanremo:
There's not pressure from the team, it's always pressure I put on myself. I mean, as my first goal of the year I once demanded the team be built around me and things haven't paid off in the past. This year it's been completely different. I was obviously asked if I want to target this and I honestly don't want to target this. So, the pressure just on myself has been a lot less.
On the weather for the race on Sunday:
It's the same for the riders from Belgium as it is for those from the Isle of Man. It rains a lot, it's cold a lot. Nobody enjoys racing in the rain but I think it's just normal. I think for those who ride in the warmer climates they're used to riding in the sun and it's not nice to be riding in the rain. For me, it's normal to ride in the rain, nice to ride in the sun. It's not just me doing 300km either, it's 200 riders doing it.
On Sagan as a race favorite and a competitor:
I think it's going to be very difficult to beat Sagan. He's clearly a favorite. He won a sprint in Tirreno, he won in a small group with climbing specialists. He's in incredibly good form and Cannondale was riding so, so strong as a team. Sagan got close last year and I really believe, barring accidents, it's going to take a miracle to beat him this year really. But we will do our best.