After the Court of Arbitration's decision to allow Tom Boonen to race the Tour de France, the Belgian sprinter was happy to line up for the start of the race in Monaco on Saturday. Not knowing about his July whereabouts for so long did not help the newly-crowned Belgian champion's focus, but he vowed that his concentration now shifted back on the racing.
"First, I wasn't planning on coming here, but when the team left, they called my and said, 'get your suitcase and come over here,'" he told Cyclingnews before taking on the first stage's time trial. "From that moment on, I was here and then it was a 'yes' or a 'no' – I was just waiting, not really hoping for anything. As soon as I had the answer, I tried to re-focus everything on the race. As soon as we start racing, I'll be fine."
Boonen had been unwanted by the race organisation because of his positive test for cocaine, but CAS ruled he still had every right to participate. Asked how difficult it had been to wait for the decision, he replied in his usual, laid-back manner, "Oh, you know, there are worse things in life, it's still only a bike race. If you can take the start, it's good, if you don't, then you go home and do something else."
Boonen seems unphased by the episode, which left Australian Allan Davis out of the race. Davis, also a world-class sprinter, was Quick Step's replacement in case Boonen remained excluded, and even attended the Tour's glamorous team presentation in the absence of Boonen. Having to leave Monaco to make way for the team's star must have been difficult.
"I didn't see Allan before he left, but I called him afterwards," said Boonen. "It was so hectic yesterday when I came back to the hotel, and then he had already left after I did the press conference. I called him and said, 'sorry, but that's life...' and he was happy to go and see his family.
"He was a little bit disappointed, of course, but that's life, isn't it."