The rivalry between Quick-Step Floors and Lotto-Soudal may have dominated Belgian cycling for years, but that hasn’t stopped Tom Boonen, who spent 15 years racing for the former, moving across to the latter for the 2018 season.
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The 37-year-old joins up with the team as part of its Captains of Cycling programme, which allows any member of the public to sign up to give money to the team, investing between €50 and €5,000 to get a range of benefits from access to exclusive behind the scenes content to invitations to the VIP village at the Tour of Flanders.
However Boonen’s seven wins at Flanders and Paris-Roubaix has earned him some special treatment, joinining the team as a “Captain of Cycling” shareholder, but also as a “technological advisor”.
Given Boonen’s long association with American bike manufacturer Specialized this role on a team which rides Ridley bikes might come as something as a surprise.
But Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad explains the connection, with Boonen’s father André being an employee of Ridley, and Ridley also being owned by the Kumpen family, with Boonen driving alongside racing driver Anthony Kumpen in his recent forays into motor racing.
“My role for the Lotto Soudal team will be an advising role,” Boonen explained. I certainly won’t be looking over the shoulders of everybody.
“But on the areas where I can share my experience, I will gladly do so. Of course I know a lot of staff members and riders, so I won’t need to adapt much to the team.”