On Monday, one day after his success at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the unstoppable Tom Boonen told Belgian media at a press conference in Tielt that he made the right decision in leaving the US Postal team three years ago and signing with Quick.Step. "Looking at it now, it was the right decision," he said. "I could have stayed at US Postal two more years, but I met the right people at the right time. After that, my career just took off. Apparently, I've been getting ready for the bigger goals faster than Lance thought." When Boonen opted for the Belgian team, Armstrong suspected that he was overestimating himself, but the 24 year-old holds no grudge. "I have no hard feelings against Lance," he said.
Meanwhile, the Tour of Flanders winner flew into Tielt, where the headquarters of Latexco, the second main sponsor of Quick.Step is located, with a helicopter. "It was the idea of the sponsor," explained team manager Patrick Lefévère, who will offer Boonen an extension of contract until 2008. "Our world hasn't changed, even if some may think that Tom has gotten a "big neck" [Flemish expression for "arrogant" - ed.] now." Instead, Boonen is focusing on the races ahead (Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix), where he is now the favourite. "Had I not won Flanders, I wouldn't have been called a favourite for these races," he said, and reiterated what his team director had said: "Therefore, nothing has changed."
However, the popularity of the Flandrian has grown, and so has the media's interest in him. To the extent that Boonen might have to downsize his availability for the press. "I have to protect myself from you, the press, once in a while, otherwise it will never stop," he said. "I also have a private life, and I'd like it to stay that way."