Tom Boonen can’t lose. Or at least that’s how he feels when he mounts his bicycle these days. The Belgian cyclist won the Gent-Wevelgem classic on Sunday after already finishing first in the E3 Prijs on Friday. For a Belgian cyclist, that’s the equivalent of winning the Europa League in football on home turf. There’s only one thing bigger and that awaits him next week: the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).
Boonen is to cycling crazy Belgium what Ronaldo is to Real Madrid fans. He is popular. The 2006 world champion is back in business after gradually sliding down the picking order. Not just in the world, but even in Belgium, which you could say is almost the world in cycling.
Last year all the lights were on his compatriot Philippe Gilbert, but since January Boonen is reborn. His team Quick-Step took on some fresh blood, donned themselves in a new kit and have made an instant impact in this year’s peloton. The same applies to Boonen. He has already won in Argentina and Qatar and has now proven to be back to his best by wining a stage in Paris-Nice and the aforementioned classics.
With seven wins in 2012, he has already eclipsed his combined total of the past two seasons (6 wins). But he would trade them all for a third win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the biggest one-day classic of the year in Belgium, and therefore in the world.