Tom Boonen: 'People are already saying goodbye'

Boonen says he's just focussing on training and being at his best for the Classics as his retirement nears

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Belgian Classics champion Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) says that riders are already saying goodbye in the peloton with Paris-Roubaix and retirement approaching on April 9.

Boonen, who just competed Tirreno-Adriatico, will race Milan-San Remo on Saturday in support of Fernando Gaviria.

>>> Can Tom Boonen win his final Paris-Roubaix?

"A lot of guys already come to say goodbye because they're not doing the Classics," Boonen said ahead of his time trial ride on the final day of Tirreno-Adriatico.

"Many guys came to me and said, 'We are thing thinking about the races we're doing and we won't have that many races together any more, so I've come to say goodbye and good luck for the rest of your life.'"

The 36-year-old won the Tour of Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix four times.

He will race Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix before calling it quits. He will retire with Paris-Roubaix, where he has the chance to set the record of five wins.

"No, Quintana, no! Hahah!" Boonen said when asked if the Tirreno-Adriatico winner said goodbye in the last week.

"But it's strange, someone comes to say goodbye and you realise that there are not that many races left any more.

"I know how it was when someone else used to stop and you'd go up to him and tell him how strange it'll be when he's not there any more. Then he's not there any more and nothing changes! The race goes on.

"With Johan [Museeuw] it was really strange because he was in the team, with Peter Van Petegem and all those guys. You have a good relationship with them and then suddenly they are going away from our own protective world and out to the big world."

Tornado Tom at the 2016 Paris-Roubaix Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Bradley Wiggins also closed a chapter with Paris-Roubaix. He stopped racing with Team Sky in the Roubaix velodrome in 2015 and began to focus on the Hour Record and Olympics.

"When was the last time I saw him? In the Tour of California, yeah," Boonen added. "Then Roubaix? Yeah, but he didn't stop after Roubaix! He stopped already 15 times! It doesn't work that way, eh! Or you stop or you don't stop and you keep racing!"

Boonen began his season with the Tour de San Juan in Argentina and raced the Tour of Oman before debuting in Europe this season.

"I'm not thinking about all the last things I'm doing, I'm thinking about that are coming up. I'm not aware that I'm doing things for the last time, otherwise, I don't think I'm focusing in the right way," continued Boonen.

"That's also why the last few months weren't hard for me, it was easy, I was in Argentina, Oman, I was training camps, the entire world was turning, and I just did my own thing like I did every year.

"In Belgium, it gets more busy. Of course, now we have two press conferences coming up for Flanders and Roubaix, it'll be a little bit more busy than normal. Personally, though, it'll be strange."

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.