The Tom Boonen juggernaut continues to roll on, with the World Champion notching up seven victories already this season. As well as giving Belgian cycling another lift, Boonen is now promoting a range of smallgoods... Sabine Sunderland reports on the latest round of Boonen-mania.
Cycling fever is rising in Belgium and even though Tom Boonen is training on the sunny Côte d'Azur and not on the parcours of Het Volk, the media are heating up the discussion about the next winner of the opening race of the 2006 calendar in Flanders. Tom Boonen's name seems to be named the most as possible winner, and his popularity in Belgium is benefiting the sport of cycling immensely.
Sporza.be reports that everyone wants to be become the new Tom Boonen and they are actually not talking about the other sprinters in the peloton. According to the latest figures, last year no less than 587 kids signed up with a cycling club in Belgium, a considerable growth of 42% compared to five years ago.
Former cycling start Rik Van Looy comments: "A similar progress was noted in tennis over the last years, thanks to the successes of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, and currently cycling is profiting from the success of Tom Boonen. Tom Boonen is a the guy of the many victories. He's an example for our youth."
If you really would like to get a piece of Tommeke Boonen, you can now literally put your teeth in. The World Champion will be featuring in the publicity for Fresty Fresh, a new brand of meats, sandwich spreads and sauces produced by Van Baelen NV. Not only the food sector has discovered Boonen as a great marketing tool; he'll also be the face of a telecommunication company and a third endorsement is being analysed.
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