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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) returned to racing at Circuit Franco-Belge.
Belgian still has a fear of crashing after return from injury
The world championship course in Geelong was tailor-made for Tom Boonen. Unfortunately the Belgian sprinter missed out on the chance of winning a second rainbow jersey because he is recovering from a knee surgery. Boonen won the Worlds title in Madrid in 2005 on a similar course.
"You only get two or three chances in life to be world champion. This was perhaps my second," Boonen admitted told Sporza.
"Hindsight is always easy, but if I had been fit, I would surely have been in the final group,” he said. "Whether I would also have won, that's a different question."
The QuickStep rider didn't watch much of the race, as he was riding in the Circuit Franco-Belge. “I only saw the last two kilometers. And then the rebroadcast. I'm not an early bird!” he said.
The Belgian said that he was happy for new world champion Thor Hushovd.
“He deserved to be world champion. I had already seen that he looked very sharp in training.” Both riders live in Monaco, and Boonen expects to congratulate Hushovd for his win there, later this week.
The short French-Belgian stage race was Boonen's first competitive race since the Tour de Suisse in June. Although the first three stages ended in mass sprints, he did not participate in any of them and he did not start the final stage.
The good news was that his knee didn't hurt. "I can go home with a good feeling. The knee did not act up and I never had to force myself."
The bad news, though, was in the pouring rain on Saturday, “I noticed that a certain fear has crept into my head: the fear of crashing again. It will take some time before that feeling is gone.”
Boonen will continue with his autumn program of racing but doesn't expect to win this year. "Next week Paris-Tours is on the program. Just riding it to the end would please me very much,” he said. “It's about going into the winter with a good feeling.”