By Susan Westemeyer
Tom Boonen was named Belgium's Sportsman of the Year for 2007 on Sunday evening, narrowly beating cyclo-cross ace Sven Nys. "I am very happy with this trophy," Boonen told the Belga press agency. "I must admit I was nervous. I thought Sven Nys would take it. He has done a lot of great things, and we are friends."
Boonen, who also won the prize in 2005, had 595 points and Nys had 573. Third was basketball player Axel Hervelle with 334 points.
"I didn't win any of the big Classics this year," Boonen noted. "Because of that, some people thought I had a bad season, but I do not think so. I had 11 wins this season, including two Tour stages, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and the E3 Prijs in Harelbeke. And I was the first Belgian since Eddy Planckaert in 1989, who was able to win the green jersey in the Tour."
"I dedicate this trophy to my mother and father," he continued. "Personally it was not an easy year for me, and they are the two people who have helped me. Thanks, mom and dad!
"This prize comes at a really good time," added the 27 year-old. "It is the motivation for next year." He is already preparing for that next year, as he flew back for the presentation from a Quick.Step-Innergetic team training camp in Tuscany, Italy.
Nys had previously won the Kristallen Fiets as best Belgian cyclist. He attributed his second place finish to Belgian regional differences. Since he had won the earlier prize, he would have expected to win this award too, he said. "But 'cross riding is not popular in Wallonia, and I knew that it would be difficult. I am happy for Tom Boonen."