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Belgian team eager to continue with former world champion despite an injury hit 2013
Tom Boonen will stay with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team for another two years. Team manager Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad that the Belgian has extended his contract through 2015. Boonen has been with Lefevere's team since 2003, with the manager describing him “of priceless value”.
Boonen's contract expired at the end of this season, and was only recently extended. “We talked together. Everything was quickly on paper. As usual between Tom and me. Tom has already put his signature to it, but mine is still missing,” Lefevere said.
The signing came despite Boonen's terrible 2013 season. He has had only one win all year, a stage at the Tour de Wallonie in late July. His season was overall dominated by illness and injuries. In fact, he announced the end of August that he was ending his season early due to a longstanding saddle sore problem.
Lefevere didn't see any of that as a problem.
“He has no signs of fatigue. The only problem was that he had lots of setbacks over the past twelve months and then the buttocks injury put him out for the autumn,” he said.
Although Astana was also interested in signing him, Boonen opted to stay with Lefevere.
“Next season is our twelfth together. I am honoured that Tom will one day end his career with me. Boonen also stands for the spirit of the team.”
He dismissed gossip that Boonen wasn't worth the money after this year of no results, “Let me be clear: Boonen is of priceless value to the team.”
Omega Pharma-QuickStep now has 29 riders for the 2014 season, leaving space for potentially one more rider, with Thomas de Gendt and Jan Bakelants mentioned as possibilities.
The biggest name newcomers are Rigoberto Uran, Mark Renshaw and Wout Poels. Amongst those leaving are Sylvain Chavanel, Bert Grabsch and Peter Velits.