Although it's probably a positive sign, Tom Boonen won't know the fate of his bid to start the Tour de France until next Tuesday. At 3pm that day in Nanterre, the court which heard his appeal today will announce its decision. As Gavia wrote yesterday, Quick Step hinged its case on the fact that the ASO was initially inclined to permit Boonen to start the Tour, only to reverse itself internally and announce Boonen's exclusion after Sports Minister Bernard Laporte objected. In its defense, ASO argued that Boonen still poses a threat to their image:
"This is not a doping case. But when Tom Boonen, who is a well known champion (...), a sprint win on the Tour de France, as everyone sees," said Mr. Nataf, considering that the rider's name was for 28 years now invariably associated with the heading of "miscellaneous".
Ah, Google Translations, so fluid. Bottom line is that ASO is standing pat on its official position. Were I in Boonen's camp, I would exercise caution in reading too much into the day's proceedings, but it could have been worse. For all I know, the court could have ruled swiftly and thrown out Boonen's case. Also, without knowing more, it doesn't sound like ASO mounted the most aggressive defense. Their willingness to have the case heard in the first place suggested some ambivalence on their part. Anyway, Boonen has another five days to sweat it out, hopefully on a bike someplace.