Boonen Soap Continutes
Tom Boonen is still determined to leave US Postal. Talking to the Gazet van Antwerpen today the young star said:
"I have underestimated this transfer. It has completely gone off the rails. If I could do it l again I would think twice - but it is impossible for me to return now. I will ride for Quick Step in 2003, it is clear that the US Postal argument is not reasonable. A quick end to this affair would suit me."
At the minute Boonen is still under contract to the US Postal team until the end of the 2003 season.
There is speculation that the recent US Postal signing of "Mad Max" Van Heeswijk, a rider more than capable of supporting Hincapie's ambitions in the Classics may see Johan Bruyneel have a change of heart. Although speaking
to our good friends at Velo Club du Net on November 11th, Johan Bruyneel was clear and concise about his new sponsor Berry Floor, Tom Boonen and George Hincapie.
Vélo-Club du Net - How much are Berry floor putting into the US Postal budget for 2003?
Johan Bruyneel - That’s a rather direct question Ca! (Laughter) Compared to the principal sponsor, Berry Floor will be contributing 25%. The biggest sponsor is US Postal, in second position Berry Floor and the other Co-sponsors are less important but supplement the budget.
VC - What about the Tom Boonen affair?
JB - As you know, Berry Floor is a Belgian sponsor. It is the first time in the history of the team where we have a large European sponsor. It is very significant for us. Tom Boonen was one of the assets of the team which interested Berry Floor, who have an interest in the Classic races. This business really saddens me. It is at a dead end. Boonen has a contract with the team for next year but he wants to leave... For me, he is a member of the team for 2003!! I can say that I will really fight to ensure that Tom stays with US Postal, he is a very significant rider in my eyes and the eyes of the sponsor.
VC - do you think it will end up in the hands of lawyers or in the Courts?
JB - I do not know... in any case is not up to us to go to the Courts! Our contract is with Tom is entirely valid and the UCI knows it. The UCI wants that contract to be respected; that is all that counts for me.
VC - Could the arrival of Berry Floor bring other Belgian riders to the team? It is known in particular that Axel Merckx is very close to Lance...
JB - I looked at the transfer market, but could not find any Belgian riders who tallied with our team plans. For me, the nationality of a rider is not very important. What counts, is his qualities as a person and cyclist. Any new rider must be able to integrate into the team.
VC - What will the objectives in 2003 for your two main Classic riders, George Hincapie and Tom Boonen?
JB - For George, it will be Paris-Roubaix. For Tom Also.
Photo courtesy US Postal Official Site.