Is Lars Boom Making a Comeback in ‘Cross?
This Sunday, former World Champion Lars Boom will make his second appearance in a ‘cross race this season. He will attempt to defend his jersey at Holland’s National Championships to be held in Heerlen. When asked about his chances for a repeat, Boom responded, “I did see the course Wednesday and there was also a lot of snow but different than Sint Michielsgestel last week (where he placed 22nd). Heerlen is a circuit that goes up and down with lots of straightaways, so it’s good for me. There’s a lot of wide corners and big stairs. When I can ride the Rhinos (Dugast’s mud tires) and when there’s not too much ice, (Gerben) De Knegt and (Thijs) Al are going to have a hard time with me. Behind them there are about three or four guys who are good, so we’ll see. Hopefully I will be a little bit more in the front at the start.”
After last weekend’s poor showing at Sint Michielsgestel, many have written Boom off as a non-factor at Nationals. But a few folks are not so quick to follow suit, including Boom himself. He explained, “It was not bad but not good. The day before the race everything was fine. The course was okay with a lot of corners that turn on themselves. But that night it started snowing. And with all the categories riding on it before our race, there was a lot of ice under the snow. The start was okay. I was just behind the crash, but I didn’t crash myself. I was 20th position in the field, but when I tried to move up, I didn’t want to take any risks on the ice. I saw a lot of people crashing in the corners and I wasn’t going to take any risks for crashing with road season in my head. But my feeling was okay because when I was on the straightaways I was pushing full and the feeling was good.”
Race favorite Gerben De Knegt agrees with Boom’s sentiment, adding “(Sint Michielsgestel) was a different race from what Nationals is expected to be. It was a really small course where he couldn’t pass the other riders. He also started in a poor position and I don’t think he was competing to finish in 20th place.”
But even if Boom snags the National Championship jersey, it’s still his last race of the season. “On January 13th I’m going with the whole road team to Mallorca, Spain for a two-week training camp. I come back three days before Worlds, so I’m not going to do anything anymore–only focus on the road and focus on the (Spring) Classics.”
With no designs of competing further, it seems strange for Boom to have a two-race comeback. Why bother? “I of course want to win the National Title again, but I also want to show myself at the races for my fans. I’m not racing for big start money, I just want to ride the races for my own fun and for my supporters. It’s also good training. I don’t have any problems with hard cyclocross training.”
Boom does, however, offer his cross fans hope that he will once again return to the fields, but not in the next year due to his personal commitment on the road. “I signed the contract (with the Rabobank ProTour Team) for 3 years, and it stays the same whether I do road or cyclocross. Maybe I can earn a lot of money in the winter, but I want to do well on the road so I had to make a decision. When you look at 2009, it was very good.” It was indeed. In his first year on the ProTour team yhe won the Tour of Belgium and the 15th stage in the Tour of Spain–one of the Grand Tours. “And the years before, it went good on the road and on cyclocross so now I made the decision to go on the road. I can now show everybody and myself I can do the big Classics and have top results.” Giving his cross fans hope, he added, “You never know what the future brings with road racing or with cyclocross. Cyclocross is a small world and I always liked it. It’s possible I go back but not in the coming year.”