Classics specialist Tom Boonen will ride the Giro d’Italia for the first time next month, his Etixx-Quick Step team said Tuesday.

The 34-year-old Belgian is one of the greatest cobbled Classics riders of all time having won Paris-Roubaix four times and the Tour of Flanders three times — both jointly held records.

However, the 2005 world road race champion missed most of the Spring Classics season this time around after dislocating his shoulder in a crash at Paris-Nice last month.

“I haven’t ridden much in Italy during my career because it didn’t fit in with my main goals,” said Boonen.

“I know I have a lot of fans in Italy. It will be great to ride over there and to fight for the pink jersey with (Rigoberto) Uran.”

Boonen’s task will be to help Uran finally win the coveted Giro pink jersey having finished second the last two years.

The Belgian will return to racing at the Tour of Turkey from April 26 to May 3 before lining up at the Giro start on May 9.

Etixx also said that British sprint star Mark Cavendish will also take part in the Tour of Turkey where last year he won four stages and won the points classification.

As well as his success in the two prestigious ‘Monument’ cobbled classics, Boonen has won E3 Harelbeke five times, Gent-Wevelgem three times and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne three times too.

He won the Tour de France points jersey in 2007 and has taken six stage wins in the event, while he is a four-time winner of the Tour of Qatar. – Agence France-Presse

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