Belgium’s Tom Boonen admitted he is desperate to step out of the shadow of rival Mark Cavendish after the Briton continued to dominate the Tour de France bunch sprints on Wednesday.
Cavendish claimed his fourth stage victory of this year’s race and eighth of his fledgling career when he dominated Garmin’s Tyler Farrar in a close-run duel at the end of the 192km 11th stage.
Boonen finished 16th and had to sprint for the line on his own after being separated from four of his Quick Step team-mates, who were injured in a crash after 27km.
And with only a stage on Thursday, and possibly Saturday to come before the Tour climbs into the Alps, Boonen says he is running out of chances to shine as Cavendish dominates the sprints with the help of his Columbia team’s train.
“I went into the last kilometer aiming for the back wheel of Cavendish, but it was all over pretty quickly,” said the 28-year-old, who was controversially re-admitted to the race at the last minute after being initially sidelined by organizers because of a second positive test for cocaine.
“Now there are not many chances left before Paris. I have come here and I am unable to sprint.”
While Cavendish’s victories are usually also the work of his impressive sprint train, Boonen has had less success in that department.
“I was sprinting without a train of my own, I lost them so I had to go for it by myself. Columbia are a strong team for sure.”