As could be expected, the as yet unconfirmed reports of Tom Boonen?s cocaine positive have been greeted with dismay and disappointment at the Dauphine Libere.
Chewing nervously on a plastic coffee stirrer stick, Quick Step directeur sportif Rick Van Slicke was clearly not happy to be the centre of attention of the journalists on the Dauphine at the start of stage two on Tuesday. But given the news from Belgium about Quick Step?s star rider, he could hardly not be.
?When I read the news this morning, I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it.? Van Slicke said.
?Now we will have to wait to see what happens, for some kind of official communique from [team boss] Patrick Lefevre.? Van Slicke could neither confirm or deny the news, saying he only knew what he?d read in the newspapers.
Other team managers, whilst clearly unhappy about the whole situation, were even less communicative. ?I don?t know anything about this and I really don?t know much about Tom Boonen.? added Francaise des Jeux manager Marc Madiot. ?Ok, I knew him to say hello and goodbye to, but that?s it.?
Just hours before the story broke, Boonen had been linked in French newspaper L?Equipe to French team, Bouygues Telecom for 2009. That particular story has rapidly been superceded by the news from Belgium.
Rabobank?s directeur sportif Adri Van Houwelingen, however, preferred to focus on the human side of the story.
?Assuming it?s true, I consider it a real personal tragedy. It has nothing to do with the team, they should not be blamed.?
?Of course it?s bad news for cycling, everything that is bad for one team affects the rest. This is a mainly personal tragedy and we are not responsible for what happened to Boonen.?