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Confirming that he will remain one more year with the Etixx – Quick-Step team, multiple Classics winner Tom Boonen has made clear that he still has ambitions in the sport.
“It’s nice to have this extra opportunity to go ahead for another year. I think I still have some business to do as a rider in cycling, and I am proud to do it again with my team, which is more than a team to me,” he said.
Boonen has clocked up more than 100 victories as a pro rider, including a record-equalling four wins in Paris-Roubaix, six Tour de France stages, one green jersey and one world championship road race triumph.
Now 34 years of age, he missed out on his planned Classics campaign this year after dislocating his shoulder in Paris-Nice. He has rebuilt his form and will be one of the designated leaders on the Belgian team for the world road race championships.
The others are Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet. With the race being largely flat and including a cobblestone section, Boonen knows that it is perhaps his best chance of taking a second rainbow jersey.
“The next few weeks will be important for me. I am super motivated for the end of the season,” he said.
“Of course, after this, I will focus on the big objectives of next year. I still have a lot of things I’d like to accomplish before my career ends. It’s not only a question of personal goals, but at my age, it’s also nice to be able to teach something to the young guys.
“I want to pass on my experience, to help them understand even the small details of the sport, which is one of the best sports in the world. I feel that I still have plenty left to contribute, both to the team in general, as well as my personal performance.
“As everyone knows I have a few objectives still in front of me. I feel good and strong.”
He added that he wanted to focus on having the best possible 2016, after which he will weigh things up.
Team CEO Patrick Lefevere pointed out that Boonen is the only rider to remain with the team since its inception in 2003. “We had great moments together.
“We talked with him lately about how he sees his future. Tom explained to us his expectations and goals for next season. We respect his objectives, and considering his palmares and his contributions to the sport, we think it was the right thing to do, to proceed together in pursuit of Tom’s last goals he’d like to achieve as a rider in cycling.”
Describing him as an example of professionalism, he said that he will be an important part of the team in 2016, not least because many new, young riders will join the squad. In addition to having his own targets, Lefevere believes he will have an important role as a mentor to them.
“It wasn’t difficult to reach an agreement with Patrick,” said Boonen. “I spent almost my entire professional career here.
“This group is special, as we were able to grow and develop year-by-year, keeping a familiar environment and spirit. In a sport known for frequent changes, Patrick was able to keep together a great group of people. This is important when you spend a lot of time on the road for your job.”