Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Worlds 2009 - Trouble in Belgium?

There's trouble brewing in Belgium--and no, I'm not talking about a new batch of Chimay.

National coach Carlo Bomans has named the following 8 riders to the Belgian National Team for the road race next weekend in Mendrisio:
Phillipe Gilbert
Tom Boonen
Francis De Greef
Kevin De Weert
Maxime Monfort
Nick Nuyens
Greg Van Avermaet
Maarten Wynants

At first glance, doesn't this list appear to be lacking one key rider?

If you said Stijn Devolder, I think you're right--and so does Stijn. Devolder--currently riding the Vuelta in preparation--thought he was a "certain pick" for his country's team. He's on the list of 5 riders in contention for the 9th and final spot; but for Devolder, the insult has already been hurled.

According to Bomans, he wanted a team of riders that would be 100% committed to getting Gilbert the win. If that's the case then, why is Tom Boonen riding? No offense to Tommeke, but does Bomans really think he'll be able to offer any assistance on a course that's rumored to be quite tough? Boonen can barely win a field sprint right now, let alone compete in a long, hilly one-day event. And Bomans doesn't think that Nick Nuyens and Greg Van Avermaet--if given the opportunity--will ride for themselves? Surely, he can't be serious.

He is, and stop me calling me Shirley.

To add insult to injury, Bomans responded to Devolder's fury by criticizing him for not riding more offensively at the Vuelta. Not to repeat myself, but what's his reason for including Boonen then? Where has he been over the past 17 days...or 67 days for that matter.

Here's my take: Carlos Bomans was one of Patrick Lefevre's key flahutes back in the heydays of Mapei. I can't help but wonder if Lefevre's a bit miffed over Devolder's reported attempt to fly the crowded Quick Step coop for undisputed spring leadership with The Shack. Maybe this is Lefevres's subtle way of letting Devolder know that he shouldn't attempt to bite the hand that feeds him?

We'll soon know if Devolder ultimately gets his place on the team, but in his mind it might already be too late. If this is a taste of things to come, it could be a very interesting April for the Belgian boys in blue and white.



  1. I am a big Stijn fan and I was pretty shocked to see him left off the list! I hope you are not right in that there is trouble in Quick Step paradise and he is being left off as a way of putting him in his place. But what place is that? The team as a whole has been pretty quite this season.

  2. I'd have to disagree about QS being quiet this season. I struggle to think of another team that won three World Cup races in one year with three different riders. Impressive no matter their lack of grand tour stages.
    As for Boonen racing the Worlds this year, I think that past World Champions and current National Champions deserve an invite if they want to race. The course was pretty tough the year Boonen won his stripes and he was criticized that year too for not getting a stage in the Vuelta while Italy's Pettachi was designated leader and was barn storming Spain that year.

  3. Top victories with 3 different riders?
    Columbia, Cervelo, uh...uh...

    Oddly enough, I would have thought the Mendriso parcour should fit Devolder well. He's punchy and can climb small hills quite well, no?

  4. Not 'top victories' with different riders but three of the old World Cup 10 race series (the five 'Monuments' plus Zurich, Hamburg (Vattenfall), Paris Tours, San Sebastian). Columbia only has MSR this year and Cervelo only has two second places and a third in these races.

  5. Well then, given Boonens excesses in April and his struggle to get permission to race i Monaco, they've been anything but quiet. But who cares about Zurich, Hamburg, Paris Tours or San Sebastian. Clearly the Giro and Tour has higher prestige?

    Apart from Chavanel in Paris Nice and the victories in Roubaix and Flanders, I'd say QS have underperformed this year. Boonen's Tour efforts were comically rubbish. Surely QS cannot be satisfied with their season as it stands, you'd think they'd set much higher standards for themselves.

  6. It seems that for QS the "season" lasts from February to April. Anything else it just gravy... I wonder when someone will grow tired of their lackluster efforts in summertime.

  7. I think QS is getting a bad wrap. We often think of them as a power house in cycling, but they don't have the budget of a lot of other teams that do worse than they do. I don't have the stats, but I imagine they have more podiums this year than Cofidis, FD Juex, AG2R, Skil-Shimano, Agriturbel combined.
    Now, replace the words QS with Garmin and people would drool: the two biggest one days of the year, San Sebastian, their National Championships (how did Garmin not manage to break the top 10 this year?!) and promising stage race talent with Kevin Seeldraeyers getting the white jersey in the Giro.'
    If I were a Director I'd be satisfied.


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