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Tom Boonen apologises to Colnago for claiming Tadej Pogačar is on a slower bike than rivals

"It breaks my heart that my words were poorly chosen"...

Tom Boonen says he has "nothing but respect for the Colnago family and their brand" and apologised for his "poorly chosen" words about Tadej Pogačar's UAE Team Emirates team bike.

The classics legend — who won Paris-Roubaix four times and three Tour of Flanders titles, as well as a World Championship road race and six stages of the Tour de France during his glittering career — had responded to a podcast comment from 1992 Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner Dirk De Wolf about the respective speeds of the WorldTour's top bikes, saying there is "a difference in quality between the top bikes in the pro peloton and the rest".

2023 Colnago V4Rs - 5.jpeg

De Wolf argued Colnagos' flagship V4Rs is not one of the best, claiming Pogačar would be "another 2km/h faster" if he swapped it for Jonas Vingegaard's Cervélo, Tom Pidcock's Pinarello or the Specialized of Soudal-Quick Step.

And while Boonen did not directly endorse his compatriot's statement, he noted a "difference in quality" and suggested Colnago had suffered "a dip a while ago" and remains "an old-school bike" that has not "quite mastered the aero thing yet".

However, sharing a picture on Instagram of Mapei's Colnago-assisted famous 1-2-3 at the 1996 edition of Paris-Roubaix, Boonen apologised, saying "it breaks my heart that my words were poorly chosen".


A post shared by Bom Toonen (@bomtoonen)

"When I was a young rider I dreamed about one day winning Paris-Roubaix on a Colnago," he wrote. "It's a shame I never got a chance to ride one of your bikes. To me, Colnago stands for passion and legacy.

"So it breaks my heart that my words were poorly chosen when I responded to Dirk's claims in our podcast. Mea culpa, I have nothing but respect for the Colnago family and their brand."

The post came not long after Ernesto Colnago, the Italian bike brand's founder, said he did not believe Boonen's comment "deserves so much a response from me, but rather an apology from someone else".

The story has rumbled on all week since Boonen and De Wolf's comments were aired on the Wielerclub Wattage podcast, with Colnago challenging the "unsubstantiated" claim Pogačar would be 2km/h faster on a different bike and inviting Boonen to its Milan headquarters to test ride the V4Rs ahead of next weekend's opening Monument of the season — Milan-San Remo.

2023 Colnago V4Rs - 1 (2)

> Colnago invites Tom Boonen for test ride after "unsubstantiated" Tadej Pogačar bike comments

Colnago also asked the retired Belgian pair, following their test ride, to engage in a "public conversation" about the data used by De Wolf to come to his conclusion that the V4Rs is substantially slower than its rivals.

Speaking on the podcast last week, De Wolf – who achieved several top results in one-day classics in the late 1980s and early 1990s – said: "If Tadej Pogačar gets on a bicycle from Jumbo-Visma, Ineos, or Soudal-Quick Step tomorrow, the rest will have no chance. On those bikes he will pedal another 2km/h faster."

"[Colnago] undoubtedly have a good product there, but it is like a Ferrari and a Porsche: there is still a difference between the brands," the 62-year-old continued.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Colnago described Boonen's comments as "off-the-cuff" and "unsubstantiated", pointing to the data included in the company's white paper for the V4Rs to rebuke the claim that the bike places Pogačar and his teammates at a disadvantage.

2023 Colnago V4Rs - 7.jpeg

Colnago claims that the V4Rs – raced under the temporary 'Prototipo' name for much of last season – is its "fastest monocoque frame ever". The brand says that the V4Rs saves the equivalent of 17.5 watts over the V3Rs at a speed of 50km/h and a rider cadence of 90rpm – though it has not made any claims comparing the aero credentials with those of bikes from other manufacturers.

"The performances of UAE Team Emirates are a highest-level priority of Colnago. Consequently, we have invested millions of euros and a lot of time in developing their bikes," Colnago CEO Nicola Rosin said in response to Boonen and De Wolf's comments.

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"We work hand-in-hand with UAE Team Emirates and UAE Team ADQ, first to understand the demands they have for our bikes and then to ensure that what we are delivering is the absolute best available.

"We are of course in contact with the teams on a daily basis and, we have not heard a single complaint about the competitiveness of our bikes. In fact, they are ecstatic about the equipment we have provided thus far."

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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ChuckSneed | 1 year ago

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