“I was trying to make it a nice race for me,” he said. “It’s not only important for a result, but for my head for the upcoming races.”
The Belgian of team Omega Pharma-QuickStep surpassed Rik Van Looy’s record of four E3 Prijs wins on Friday. He claimed four in a row from 2004 to 2007 and won again on Friday, ahead of Oscar Freire (Katusha), to create a new record.
Boonen’s break-out season in 2005 included wins in Flanders, Roubaix and the World Championships. He returned to win Flanders the following year in his rainbow jersey and took two more Roubaix wins in 2008 and 2009.
This year, he seems to have renewed energy and strength. Already, he has won stages in Paris-Nice, Argentina and Qatar, including the overall. The E3 Prijs win, raced over many of the cobbled climbs he’ll face in Flanders, was a nice bonus.
“I like to have a big win before Flanders,” he said. “It takes away the pressure a little bit when you’ve won one of these races. It makes you more relaxed.”
Boonen attacked today on the Taaienberg and led the charge up the Paterberg. After team-mate Sylvain Chavanel was caught, he won the sprint.
“I was testing myself for those upcoming classics, that’s why I was doing a few big attacks and not saving myself for the sprint.”
He will defend his title in Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday, skip the Three Days of De Panne mid-week and then focus on Flanders next weekend.