Boonen finishes year with 'toughest race'

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic) said goodbye to the 2007 season at the exotic location of Curaçao...

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic) said goodbye to the 2007 season at the exotic location of Curaçao over the past weekend, an event he described as the "hardest race of the year". Tornado Tom was one of 10 top professionals who were invited to the Netherlands Antilles Island to take part in the 6th Amstel Curaçao.

For the locals and the other islanders the small 75 km race was the race of the year, yet for Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel), along with Andy Schleck (Team CSC), Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile), Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Boonen, the race was the only mandatory part of their week-long trip that they received from Leo van Vliet, Amstel Gold race director, in exchange for riding the race.

"Actually this is the hardest race of the year," Boonen explained. "Not only is it much too hot to race, we have also not touched our bikes for a few weeks. We are also up against the local riders who have been preparing for this race all year long especially to put the top guys in the hurt box."

For Boonen and company the trip to the island was more about the swimming, beach, tennis, water polo and deep-sea diving than it was about the racing, however, once they pinned a number to their backs, all of them switched from holiday mode to race mode, albeit only for a couple of hours in order to give the island's cycling fans what they came to see. Contador, racing for the final time in Discovery livery, took the top spot on the podium ahead of Dekker and Fränk Schleck (Team CSC).

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