Winning is easy when you are having fun
It's been quite a year for Tom Boonen. World champion's jersey, lucrative contracts, countless victories and the adoration of a devoted Belgian public. That blend is a potent mix and makes it all the more likely he'll keep racking up the wins. Shane Stokes reports from Baden, Switzerland, after Boonen won the first stage of the Tour de Suisse.
Sports psychologists call it the 'inverted U hypothesis of arousal,' and while this sounds like a bizarre extract from a Kama Sutra manual, it actually refers to the optimum level of stress for sports performance. The theory is that too little motivation hampers the chances of doing well, but so too does too much pressure. Striking the right balance between the two is crucial.
Tom Boonen has another word for it. It's called having fun. When he spoke to the press after his victory on the opening stage of Saturday's Tour de Suisse, it is clear that he is very much in that mindset. "It is easy to win a race when you are having fun," he stated, with a smile. "If you are too focused, too stressed, thinking too much about preparing for the Tour and obsessing about winning the green jersey – if you think like that, it is hard to go well. But if you regard it all as a game, it makes it a bit easier."
The Belgian is certainly in the right situation to feel that way. Since the start of the year he has topped the podium 17 times, exceeding the 14 wins he took in the whole of 2005. Previous world champions may have been hampered by poor post-World's seasons; however Boonen has been one of the most impressive wearers of the maillot arc-en-ciel in a long, long time.
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