Super Tom Boonen
Tom Boonen whether you call him Tornado Tom, The Cub of Flanders or another nick
name on the eve of Paris Roubaix we take a look at his career. Photos and links
Tom Boonen was first Celine Tytgadt
Let's Talk Belgian
Riders! Celine wrote about the Belgium riders of prominence but also the
"Young Guns" of the Belgian peloton mentioning one promising 21 year old, Tom
Boonen who for the past two years had ridden as a stagiare for USPostal team
with two victories in 2000 in the U-23 races GP Stad Geel and a stage 1 at Le
Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux. He improved this in 2001 with six victories and
many top 5 finishes. He signed his pro contract in 2002 with Lance Armstrong's
team US Postal Service.
went on to write... "For example Jurgen Van Den Broeck. Ranked fourth in the UCI-ranking
for juniors and winner of the golden medal TT in the last world championships,
he is definitely one to keep on eye on in a few years.
Or the 21-year old Tom Boonen. In the
opening weekend in Belgium for the cycling season, Tom managed to ride in the
spotlight in both races, Omloop Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. He is now
part of the US Postal team and feels very much at ease as I noticed in an
interview after Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, where he finished 7th at only 8 seconds
from winner Jan Kirsipuu."
Photo on the left: Tom at the Belgian Road Championships in June 2002, photo
credit Celine Tytgadt. (click on the photo for a larger
Tom Boonen raced in the USA that early spring at the
in March of that year finishing 5th on the second stage to another rider Chris
Horner who won the first two stages in the new pro team Prime Alliance. Tom
finished 25th at
Redlands as Chris Horner went on to take the first of several G.C.stage
races that year. Another promising USPS rider Dave Zabriskie finished fifth to
The spring of 2002 had just begun for Tom Boonen in his debut year. While
USPS mates Lance and Hincapie took on Mario Cipollini, the Lion King at
Milan San Remo
(where Mario won the Italian Primavera) Tom Boonen and Dave Zabriskie were busy
racing in California at the Sea Otter Classic, where once again Horner collected
another stage race win with Dave finishing third and Super Tom 29th. Of interest
in that race Henk Vogels (Davitamon/Lotto) of the Mercury team was 2nd to
Horner, and Michael Barry (Discovery Channel) on USPS was 13th.
April Tom joined the USPS squad in Europe for the Spring Classics and it
didn't take long for him to start showing his style and turn in results, as he
finished 7th in the
Three Days of
Panne. Podofdonny said in his
Flanders, "It will be also very interesting to see how Tom Boonen fares - for a
first year pro his results so far must be very encouraging."
Boonen didn't take long to show what he was capable of when he made the lead
group in Paris
Roubaix with his USPS mate George Hincapie. When the Lion of Flanders Johan
Musseuw attacked at 40kms from the finish it was the duo of Hincapie and Boonen
who were the lone chasers attempting to bring back the giant of the cobbles.
Fate intervened with a car causing Hincapie to crash, Boonen pressed on alone as
Musseuw's lead went to 2:00 minutes.
Boonen was caught by Steffen Wesemann of Team Telekom who finished 3:03
after Musseuw with an exhausted Tom finishing :04 behind after doing a
journeyman's work in the six hour race. Hincapie showed his strength that day
finishing with the second group less than a minute down on in sixth with first
Boonen was hailed at the podium by Musseuw as his successor. The Lion of
Flanders had named his successor and it wasn't long the Super Tom would soon be
referred to as the "Lion's Cub"
June the Postal team brought the Young Gun to the Philadelphia for the Wachovia
Series where Jaime Nichols met the new sensation for an
Tom revealed that he had won his first ever race as an amateur at 14.
Tom also gave Jaime the some insight into his debut in the pro version of the
Paris Roubaix and the pressure that he now faced to deliver on the promise of
his recent results. Along with the win, came the attention of the press as Tom
was stopped more often for Television interviews (even in the USA later in
Philadelphia) and attention from the fans; whatever anonymity he may have
had he left it on the cobbles that April on the way to the track in Roubaix.
Tom comes from a racing heritage, his father Andre Boonen was a pro
from 1979 through 1984; his steady progress as a rider surely comes from the
firm roots of his heritage. In June Super Tom slipped into the leaders jersey in
the Volta a Catalunya on the strength of the USPostal team's team time trial on
the opening stage. A stage win in the
in the beginning of July became the second win of three that year with the
American team of Lance Armstrong. Boonen had eight top 5 finishes by the end of
the year, not a bad start for a neo pro.
By the end of July Tom Boonen became outspoken about his
with the Postal team as offers came for him to leave and sign with other teams.
First on the list was the Quickstep/Davitamon team of Johan Musseuw the Lion of
Flanders wanted the Flanders Lion Cub on the strong classics squad.
"It was unbelievable that I felt so strong. It was bad that George Hincapie did
not feel similarly strong.
“I want to speak to the team management - I have had offers from other teams.”
What turned into a
with Postal and Boonen in the public that continued through fall. In
December Podofdonny wrote
Boonen Soap is
Over as the ink dried on the contract.
Musseuw and Boonen photo c. Anita Van Crey and
By January of 2003 young Tom, now 22 escaped his USPS Contract and joined
Musseuw and Patrick Lefevere on the QuickStep team. In a Podofdonny article
Tom Boonen -
Quickstep Cyclist! Tom was quoted, "At Quick Step, you ride with the true
hunters of the Classic races, I will be able to polish my approach to these
races, and these are the races that I love, like the Tour of Flanders for
However with the likes of Museeuw, Bettini, Vandenbroucke or Bodrogi around him
maybe Boonen will not get a chance to shine next season?
"I agree, but all that does not worry me at all, because my role will not be
limited to being a water carrier," replies Boonen, without beating around
Anita Van Crey photo:
Boonen and Museeuw.
And "Polish his approach" is what he did in 2003 Boonen finished third at
after a crash behind Henk Vogels and Andreas Klier the winner, and won Stage 3
in Ronde van België with his new team; if the year lacked fireworks and a few
might have thought the "Cub of Flanders" made a mistake leaving the US Postal
All doubts were removed in 2004 as
the "Tornado Tom" as he began to be called, opened the season, with a
stage victory in the Ruta del Sol and E3 Prijs Vlaandren and his first win at
Gent-Wevelgem. Tom went on to win 24 races and 17 top ten placements that year
among them the prestigious first
le Tour stage 6
on the way to Angers followed up with winning his 15th victory for the year in
the final day. Tom finished a credible 120th in his first Grand Tour. While only
23 at this point as his birthday is late in the year, October 15th, 1980 the
'Cub' had a list of palmares in hand any rider would envy.
SterElektroToer Photo c. Anita Van Crey
Stage 2 in Yellow
At the Start
Tom at GP Eddy Merckx photo c. Karen Lambrecht
Tom in Green photo courtesy Lazer Helmets
2005 opened with a campaign in Qatar
winning two stages, 2 more in Tour de Picardie, another pair in
Paris-Nice...looking strong he won Ronde van Vlaanderen, and then
He followed up with his first victory in Paris-Roubaix nothing less than a
spectacular start to the year. In July at the Tour de France he added
Stage 2 and
3 to his
In September he won the
beating Lance Armstrong into second in the votes from international journalists.
A week later it was a brief jaunt to the Carribean to win
Curacao. Boonen returned in October to train for the worlds, commenting,
"the World Championships a
Kermesse' " , that said a few weeks later Tom won that kermesse and the
rainbow jersey to celebrate with his birthday as he turned 25. Few riders have
accomplished as many wins in significant races by this point in their career: 20
victories,15 top 5 placements and number 2 in the new Pro Tour standings.
Tom and the
Quick Step/Innergetic team looked ever stronger for the 06 season for the
2005 Paris Roubaix Photos Photo c. Anita Van Crey
Boonen and Museeuw Paris Roubaix Quick Step Team Presentation.
of Flanders and "Cub" training
Boonen in group
Stage 2 le Tour
2006: Super Tom's first race and first
win at the Doha
International in Qatar, the following up two days later winning
and Stage 3 and
5 and the G.C.at
the Tour of Qatar. At
Ruta del Sol
Super Tom met the
Gentleman" Alesandro Petacchi with
as Boonen got his revenge on
Stage 5 in
a photo finish victory. The first meeting of the two super sprinters scored a
2-1 advantage in Ale-jets favour; no matter the score can't be considered
complete until the end of this season.
Paris Nice Stage 1 Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
Its been non stop action since, it wasn't even Spring yet and Tom was in the
leaders jersey at Paris-Nice with three stage victories;
Boonen celebrates with Filippo Pozzato at Milan San Remo
Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
He proved a team player at
Milan-San Remo celebrating in unison with
as he crossed the line with team work denying Ale Jet the victory in La
Vlaandren, and an attack with Lampre's Ballan brought them in a minute and a
half with Boonen accomplishing his third consecutive win in the semi-classic.
April started no differently when the Tornado attacked with Discovery's Leif
Hoste to win
With 15 victories to his credit on the eve of
Paris Roubaix as the favorite to pull off a consecutive triumph he could take
the year off and consider it a success, but he won't.
What makes Tom Super?
It isn't his victories alone that singles out this 25 year old native of
Belgium. What makes Tom a favorite with the fans is the way he attacks on the
road; when the peloton split at Gent-Wevelgem Tom didn't just send his mates on
Quick Step to the front to try to bridge. He attacked the front and shared the
cost as a team member. Obviously he isn't a "Prima Donna", he might have had a
place on the Podium at Milan-San Remo if he hadn't burst into a enthusiastic
celebration as his team mate Pozzato won.
"Super Tom". "Tornado Tom", or "Lion Cub of
Flanders", no matter your favorite nick name you choose is a rider who is
willing to attack in the tradition of the great Classic riders of yesteryear,
and at the same time he is a team player displaying a maturity beyond his 25
A keen ability to read a race and pick the opportune moment for an attack;
combined with the willingness to lay it all out on the road for victory. Winning
isn't easy but his smile makes you think if you were him it would be.
He isn't a roulleur, or field sprinter though he could hold his own with the
best that bear that title proudly. The fact that he finished the Tour de France
in 2004 at 23 years of age says volumes in itself about the toughness and
determination of this young man.
He may be the ultimate road warrior in the tradition of Steenbergen, Rik Van
Looy, Tafi, Tommy Simpson and others in the past who each who displayed cunning and
courage in the great monuments of cycling. And to think he is only 25!
Above this he has a great sense of humor and a
million dollar smile on the podium that says "wow, I can't believe how lucky I
When Gazet Van Antwerpen asked him in interview
"Any other big news?"
Tom Boonen replied in a dead serious manner, "I’m considering getting a
sex-change during the off-season. I just haven’t found a fitting first name yet.
But I don’t think that’ll be interesting enough for the papers, or will it? "
And then he burst out in laughter.
He and his main rival Alessandro Petacchi make me
happy to be a cycling fan and be here to see these two powerful riders dueling
on the road...it's like watching history in the making.
Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
on the Koppenberg
Paris Nice Points Leader
Paris Nice Stage 3
Podium Paris Nice
Podium 2 Paris Nice
World Champ wins stage at Paris Nice
Getting used to Yellow!
Time Trial Paris Nice
Don't miss this excellent article:
1996 By Tony Szurly
Photo Courtesy Lazer Helmets Les Inseperables