Tom Boonen will celebrate his 36th birthday on the eve of this year’s World Road Championships in Qatar but the Belgian rider is not hoping for a special birthday present, saying he would be happy with new underwear or a pair of socks. Boonen also confirmed that even if he wins the world title, he not change his plans to retire after targeting a fifth victory at Paris-Roubaix.
The Etixx-QuickStep rider will lead the Belgian team in the elite men road race on Sunday October 16 alongside Olympic road race gold medallist with Greg van Avermaet.
“I’m not really bothered about birthday presents and I’m not asking for any special presents. I’d be happy with new underwear or a pair of socks. Of course the world title would be even nicer and I know I won’t forget this birthday,” Boonen said, according to Sporza.
Boonen has enjoyed a hugely successful 15-year career that also includes three victories at the Tour of Flanders, 112 professional victories and a world title won in a sprint in Madrid in 2005. He is counting down the days to his retirement and will probably only race 30 times before next year’s Paris-Roubaix. But he confirmed he has no plans to race on even he wins the rainbow jersey in Qatar.
“The World Championships is the last big race of this season but there are still a lot of races I’ll focus on next season. Will I continue to race if I win? No. I made up my mind a long time ago, even if I win the world title or not in Qatar. Paris-Roubaix is my last race.”
Boonen crashed out of the recent Eneco Tour, hurting his neck. However he returned to racing on Sunday at the rain-soaked Tour de l’Eurometropole and finished third in the controversial sprint that saw Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) squeeze Oliver Naesen (IAM) towards the barriers but still given victory. Before the Eneco Tour, Boonen showed he was on form by winning the RideLondon Classic and the Brussels Cycling Classic.
“You cannot turn back time but I have had some solid workouts (since the Eneco Tour). I have almost no pain in my neck. I certainly haven’t become afraid of sprinting,” Boonen said, warning his rivals.
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