We asked a hundred cycling fans: what do you think of when you hear ‘Tom Boonen’?
Cobbles, they said. Coke. US Postal Service, if they choose to remember The Armstrong Era. "And QuickStep."
Post-career, things appear to be different however. The key words are now twins, ginormous tattoos and, most surprisingly, Lotto.
Yes, Lotto. Tom Boonen is going to work for the arch nemesis of QuickStep, the team where he spent 15 of his 17 professional years on the bike. Though for accuracy’s sake, for three of those the two enemy teams merged into one. Just like the Spice Girls predicted.
Tombolotto, as he will be called until he moves to Sagan’s crew which is when we can really start the fun, will be working as an advisor. I’m assuming his wisdom will come in handy during the cobbled season mostly, unless Benoot’s boys also need help not finishing Grand Tours.
Anyway. Tombolotto is not a complete surprise to those in the know. Paul De Geyter, Lotto-Soudal’s new The Man, was Boonens manager for years and André Boonen, Tom’s dad, works for Ridley. "And Marc Sergeant was the first guy to tell me I could be a pro, twenty years ago", Boonen tells Sporza. "He was my first serious DS."
If you’re perhaps one of those folks who is missing some pro peloton hottitude these days, I’ll have to disappoint you. Tombolotto won’t be present in the team car, and we won’t be seeing him at races any more than we do now. "But the riders can always give me a call when they need help. The team needs a reorganization. A lot has changed, and a lot still needs changing. With my experience I’m sure I can do my part."
So why not QuickStep? I’m sure Yves Lampaert can use some pointers too. I mean he is on my VDS-team. Well, apparently Boonen likes a challenge. Who would’ve thought. "The plan is to turn Lotto into a world player. I’m not choosing the easy road: keeping a top team at the top. I wanna turn a team who currently plays with the best in a few big races, into a squad who does that all the time. That’s the challenge. That’s how I can help Belgian cycling."
More news from
- Sporza will show the finale of the women’s Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem and Ronde van Vlaanderen live this year.
- The Flanders Classics races will be showing important numbers like heartrate, wattage and, I assume, hottitude during the race.
- The opening weekend will be under magnificent blue skies, but it will be bitterly cold. Max. 5 degrees Celsius, with strong winds, especially in the morning. "Nothing real Flandriens can’t handle", so says weatherman Frank Deboosere.
- Understand it if you can: last year Eurosport bought the rights to the Italian races for Belgium. Now they’re selling them back to the main players, one by one. Strade Bianchi was sold to Sporza, MSR to the commercial competitors at VTM. Co-commentator for that race is none other than... Tombolotto.