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.

Thoughts?

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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