Tom Boonen backs down from Colnago criticism: 'I dreamed about winning Paris-Roubaix on a Colnago'

The Belgian legend apologises for the bizarre spat

Tom Boonen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tom Boonen has rowed back on his opinion that Colnago bikes are “old-school” by insisting that it was his childhood dream to win Paris-Roubaix aboard a bike from the Italian brand.

The bizarre story began earlier this week when the Belgian Classics legend told the Wielerclub Wattage podcast that Colnago were not among one of the top-five bike brands in the world, saying that while they were “catching up”, they were “still an old-school bike and they haven’t quite mastered that super-hyper-aero stuff yet.”

His comments followed that of former Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Dirk De Wolf who said that two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar would “ride decisively faster” on other manufacturers’ bikes. Pogačar has only ridden Colnago bikes since joining UAE-Team Emirates in 2019.

The criticism prompted Colnago to invite both Boonen and De Wolf to Italy to test out their 2023 V4Rs bike before next weekend’s Milan-San Remo, and on Friday Boonen took to Instagram to clarify his earlier comments.

He wrote: “When I was a young rider, I dreamed about one day winning Paris-Roubaix on a Colnago. It’s a shame I never got a chance to ride one of your bikes.

“To me, Colnago stands for passion and legacy. So it breaks my heart that my words were poorly chosen when I responded to Dirk’s claims in our podcast.

“#meaculpa. I have nothing but respect for the Colnago family and their brand.”

His post was accompanied by a photo of the 1996 Paris-Roubaix that featured three Mapei-GB riders on the podium, with Johan Museeuw being crowned the winner. The team rode Colnago bikes between 1994 and 2002.

Responding to Boonen’s earlier criticism, Colnago’s CEO Nicola Rosin said that they had “not heard a single complaint” from either UAE-Team Emirates or UAE-Team ADQ in relation to the bikes, and that they “have invested millions of euros and a lot of time developing their bikes.”

Una publicación compartida de Bom Toonen (@bomtoonen) (opens in new tab)

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.