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Tom Boonen backs Bob Jungels for Tour of Flanders glory

Joe Robinson
4 Apr 2019

Three-time winner expects Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck-QuickStep to dictate race

Three-time Tour of Flanders winner Tom Boonen has backed Deceuninck-QuickStep's Bob Jungels as his tip to cross the finish line in Oudenaarde first this Sunday.

Speaking on Belgian radio, Boonen highlighted four riders that he believes will shine at Flanders this weekend, and ultimately picked Jungels, the recent winner of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, as the favourite for the race.

'I expect a lot from Wout van Aert, who can count on the support of his Jumbo-Visma team this year,' Booned said. 'That naturally brings a little more pressure. I am convinced that he can do it and that he can do it now, but whether it is already a prize this year, remains to be seen.'

Mathieu [van der Poel] is very busy, but he has to compete as an individual against the strong block of Deceuninck-QuickStep. Zdenek Stybar is doing well, but I think Bob Jungels is going to win.'

Jungels has returned to the Cobbled Classics after a six-year hiatus having turned his spring focus to the Ardennes in that period. Having won Liege-Bastogne-Liege last season, the Luxemburger decided to switch back to the cobbles for 2019.

So far, it has been an instant success with victory in Kuurne supported with fifth at the E3-BinckBank, often a litmus test for Flanders, and then third at Dwars door Vlaanderen. 

Despite this good form, Jungels is not regarded as the bookmakers' favourite within his own team let alone the entire race. This relative underdog tag is something that Boonen believes could be used to work in his favour. 

'Jungels has good legs and has the advantage that he is not the outspoken favourite. It is a rider who can ride away on the Kwaremont or who can start earlier. He can keep up a long effort like no other and rides in a strong team.'

As Boonen states, Jungels is part of a strong team, Deceuninck-QuickStep, which has already bagged five one-day Classic wins this spring with four different riders in a dominant show of force. 

The Belgian team, for which Boonen rode for during most of his career, is also defending its Flanders title for the third year following the victories of Niki Terpstra and Philip Gilbert in 2018 and 2017 respectively.

Both of these previous wins came from long solo attacks that made use of continuous pressure on the front of the bunch by QuickStep riders, tactics that Boonen himself benefited from on his way to seven career Monument wins.

He thinks that history may repeat itself with frantic racing to start proceedings before the race's two strongest teams decide on their plan of attack long before the finish in Oudernaarde.

'I expect that they will race for a very long time in the beginning. That it will not stop for the first two to three hours. It will also depend on the tactics of the two large teams at the moment: Deceuninck-QuickStep and Jumbo.'