Boonen inks one-year extension with Etixx-QuickStep

34-year-old to stay with Belgian team for a 14th season

Tom Boonen will continue to ride for Etixx-QuickStep in 2016 with the Belgian team confirming it has handed a one-year contract extension to the 34-year-old.

The Belgian rider had already hinted that he had an agreement in place with the team over a week ago, but now pen has been put to paper. The deal will take Boonen into a 14th year with the team, which he has called home for the majority of his professional career after joining in 2003. 

"I am very happy to stay with the team for another year. It wasn't difficult to reach an agreement with Patrick [Lefevere]. I spent almost my entire professional career here. It's nice to have this extra opportunity to go ahead for another year. I think I still have some business to do as a rider in cycling, and I am proud to do it again with my team, which is more than a team to me," said Boonen in a statement from the team. 

"This group is special, as we were able to grow and develop year-by-year, keeping a familiar environment and spirit. In a sport known for frequent changes, Patrick was able to keep together a great group of people. This is important when you spend a lot of time on the road for your job. The people around you are part of your success. The riders and staff of Etixx - Quick-Step are special."

Boonen was one of a number of riders at Etixx to have faced uncertainty since cycling's transfer window opened in August. With key riders like Mark Cavendish and Rigoberto Urán out of contract, team boss Patrick Lefevere has had to think carefully about what shape he'd like his squad to take next year. Boonen, who is entering the twilight of his career, has been deemed worth keeping, both for the results he can continue to achieve and for the experience he can offer to the up-and-coming members of the team. 

"Tom Boonen is the only rider that stayed with us since the team's inception in 2003. We had great moments together. Our paths of success are connected," said Lefevere. "We talked with him lately about how he sees his future. Tom explained to us his expectations and goals for next season. We respect his objectives, and considering his palmares and his contributions to the sport, we think it was the right thing to do, to proceed together in pursuit of Tom's last goals he'd like to achieve as a rider in cycling.

"He is an example of professionalism. This is an important factor for next year, as the team will change a lot with plenty of new, young guys on the team. His presence is also valuable to help us in developing a new generation of riders."

In his time at the team, Boonen has racked up over 100 victories and has added his name to the pantheon of all-time greats of the sport. He is a former World Champion and has a record-equalling four Paris-Roubaix titles to his name, along with three at the Tour of Flanders and six Tour de France stage wins.

He has three wins to his name in 2015, with a stage at the Baloise Belgium Tour, a one-day title at Rund um Köln, and most recently a stage of the Eneco Tour. He is still hungry to enhance that palmares but is looking forward to riding and training with a broader focus. 

"As everyone knows I have a few objectives still in front of me. I feel good and strong. The next few weeks will be important for me. I am super motivated for the end of the season. Of course, after this, I will focus on the big objectives of next year. I still have a lot of things I'd like to accomplish before my career ends," he said. 

"It's not only a question of personal goals, but at my age, it's also nice to be able to teach something to the young guys. I want to pass on my experience, to help them understand even the small details of the sport, which is one of the best sports in the world. I feel that I still have plenty left to contribute, both to the team in general, as well as my personal performance. I want to make the most of every moment in 2016 and then we will see.”


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