Patrick Lefevere has talked up Tom Boonen ahead of the 2014 campaign, claiming that his Classics rider is far from finished. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider had a year to forget in 2013, consistently failing to hit top form due to persistent health and injury problems.
“Tom still has a great value for the team. Team owner Bakala spoke at the training camp to the squad and he told the team that Tom remains the figurehead - no one stood up to protest,” Lefevere told Gazet van Antwerpen.
"Quite a few people say that Boonen is finished. This is nonsense. He was rarely sharper, full of enthusiasm and has had brilliant tests.
"And what is most important is that his head is good. I expect a great season from him."
Despite the loss of Boonen for most of the season Omega Pharma-QuickStep enjoyed a successful season with 57 wins on the road. The signing of Rigoberto Uran from Team Sky has bolstered the team’s ambitions in the Grand Tours but the excitement has been slightly off-set by the loss of Sylvain Chavanel.
The Frenchman had been a consistent winner for the team since moving from Cofidis but according to Lefevere he could no longer afford to keep the future IAM Cycling rider.
"The sponsors wanted someone who could play a significant role during the Tour and that was Rigoberto Uran. As a result, there was no budgetary room for Chavanel."