Tom Boonen has described the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix as his "great love" and expressed his desire to claim a fourth title in the French Spring Classic next year. In an interview with Sporza Radio the Quick Step sprinter also confessed to his use of cocaine in the past, calling it "stupid and regrettable."
"I have had my most beautiful successes in Roubaix," said Boonen. "It would be nice to win it next year for the fourth time; that would be utopia, I think."
Boonen claimed his third Paris-Roubaix in April this year, his second successive victory in the race. His first win came in 2005, three years after he had claimed a podium position as a 21-year-old neo-pro with US Postal Service. "It was immediately a great love with Paris-Roubaix and the cobblestones," he said. "Roubaix is decisive: If you are not the best rider, you will lose."
Although clear about his passion for the French event, Boonen described his home cobbled Classic, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, as a more complicated race. He has claimed the Flandrian event in 2005 and 2006, the earlier result coming a week before his first triumph at Paris-Roubaix.
"The Ronde van Vlaanderen is nice, but difficult," he said of the race. "In Vlaanderen, you need to take more factors into account."
The 29-year-old also admitted for the first time that he had used cocaine, a drug he has tested positive for in three occasions in his career. "I used cocaine. That was stupid and regrettable. I am not proud. But the last three years, I have not had a problem with it.
"I still do not know what happened in April 2009; I'll probably never know," he said. In April he tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition control which showed traces of the drug. He escaped sanction after further tests revealed that the positive had come as a result of indirect contact with the drug.
"Cocaine brings misery to a lot of people," he concluded.
Boonen recorded seven victories this season, including his Paris-Roubaix win. However, after his positive for cocaine, he required a court ruling to be allowed to ride the Tour de France. He won the right to start, but dropped out on the 15th stage due to a stomach virus.