Calpe - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Tom Boonen (Belgium / Team Etixx - Quick Step) pictured during a short morning training session, part of the media presentation of the Etixx - Quickstep cycling team 2016 in Calpe, Spain.  - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2015
  • Will

    great article

  • slowK

    Boonen has really grown on me. His happiness for Hayman at Roubaix (and comments in this interview), and his congratulations for Sagan at the Worlds showed grace, class and respect.

  • George Hayduke

    “Sagan is fast, he’s really good, and he can do the Classics and everything, but he’s still just a sprinter who can do a little bit more.”

    someone finally telling it like it is.

    • cthenn

      If you consider winning a 1 week stage race with multiple summit finishes, the ability to hang on almost any shorter climb, one of the best bike handlers in the pro peloton, and a better climber and TT’er than most sprinters “a little bit more” then I guess that’s telling it like it is. SMH, I don’t know what else he can do besides add a few more monument victories to his palmares, which I’m sure he will by the time he retires.

      If you don’t think Sagan is one of the strongest riders in the peloton, you are kind of clueless.

      • George Hayduke

        he’s a strong guy without argument, but his versatility is almost his weakness. by that i mean he can almost climb as good as real climbers and almost sprint as well as real sprinters, which is why he’s always almost winning races: there’s always someone just slightly more suited to the course than he is. on top of that, he pretty much relies entirely on brute strength to win a race, when was the last time he applied tactics to win? he just kinda stomps the pedals as hard as he can and hopes for the best. sometimes that works, often it doesn’t.

        that’s not to say he isn’t talented–which he most certainly is–only that he’s been over-hyped by the cycling media and most fans as this super human capable of ending world hunger and winning every race he enters. it’s not his fault by any means that a niche was carved out for him he can never truly fill.

        the “little bit more” is exactly that, just a little more advantage over other sprinters.

      • Superpilot

        Boonen agrees with you, he is one of the strongest. But considers Valverde one step more versatile. Classics, Tour podiums and multiple more wins per year. Sagan definitely all of those things you mention, but is in a certain box, whereas Valverde’s results are more across the board as a bike rider.

        • Samaway

          To my mind, comparing a guy with a 7-year career (Sagan) to a guy with a 14-year career (Valverde) is a bit wonky. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sagan gets there eventually

  • cthenn

    Totally agree about Valverde. Despite some of his shady past (who doesn’t have a shady past/present?), he sure wins a lot. As Tom said, he can place very well in 3 week GT’s, but also win 1 day races. He also shows up all year, unlike some of our current GT riders, who are pretty much crap until July where all of a sudden they are monsters at the TdF.

    As far as Sagan goes, I agree to an extent. Methinks there is just the slightest touch of envy though, as Peter is the king of cycling right now, at least in terms of name recognition. What Sagan did at the Tour of California last year was amazing, and he will always be a favorite at 1-day races including PR and Flanders. Sure, his palmares is a little light in terms of monuments and really big wins, but he still has a long ways to go in his career. Peter races without much of a team, so if he had the benefit of a super team like Etixx, he may fare better.

    I don’t know what Wiggins was doing in that same conversation though. Wiggins came good for a few years after being quite mediocre on the road, and then flamed out as he went back to the track. I would never put Wiggins in the same sentence as AC, Valverde, and Sagan in terms of road racers. But then again, I’m quite suspicious of all these Sky guys, so perhaps I’m biased…

    • setting son

      i think Tom and Wiggins are close friends maybe thats why he name checked his mate, there is a mutual appreciation society between the two and both are great historians of the sport, I agree with what you say about Wiggins’s road career but not many if any riders go from the track to winning the Tour De France..thats quite a quantum leap, I think the spread of Wiggins’s palmares is what impresses most athletes, Valverde I would agree with, he always reminds me of Sean Kelly, a rider who was shows up in the monuments and classics and is strong in grand Tours, their CVs are pretty similar with both just missing out on rainbow bands and a Vuelta win along with many many wins under their belt

    • Samaway

      Nice comment. I think Wiggins is certainly a unique rider. His palmares probably bears mention for breadth rather than depth: he’s medalled on the track (and been world champ?), won the TDF, been world ITT champ, and holds the world hour record. It’s quite remarkable to have won such a varied set of races. I don’t think he “flamed out” in the end so much as saw what was happening at Sky (w/ Froome) and just said “fuck it.” I agree with your suspicion of Sky, but I’m not sure there’s much reason to assume they’re doing anything different from other teams — probably just better at it

      • Superpilot

        This. World champ on the track, Olympic medals on track and TT, Hour record, TDF. He may not have been the most dominant, but across the board he has shown one of the most versatile talent. So probably not referenced by Boonen as an out and out road rider, you are right, he pales to some still riding in terms of record on the road. I’m not a fan of his really, but his versatility harks back a bit more to the Hinaults/Merckxs of the world that tried their hand at a range of disciplines.

    • Matt DeMaere

      Where’s that footnote by someone… talking about coming across a Movistar training camp, the entire team strung out some place. Asked what they were doing and was told they were trying to catch Valverde who’d attacked and ridden off.

      • Samaway

        Haha I want to know more about this

  • velocite

    There’s often talk of role models in sport, not infrequently in the context of some appalling behaviour by a top athete. What nonsense, I think. But Boonen, now he might be different. I learned something about life in reading that interview. A fine man. And an excellent interview, thanks.

  • Superpilot

    Wanted him to win Roubaix, but was mega happy for Hayman. Dunno if either would have made it if Sags and Cancellara didn’t get caught up in Cancellaras crash. That’s academic though. I listened to the podcast, and reading this, is a great refreshing list of questions that don’t hold to the standard list (how’s the form, are you retiring next year, etc etc). Keep up this kind of insightful line of query in your interviews.

  • Ragtag

    Good one. It is kind of tough now days to find a Tom Boonen interview!


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