Tom Boonen will begin the final season of his professional career at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, his Quick-Step Floors team has confirmed. Boonen is set to retire after the cobbled Classics this spring and is looking forward to getting his racing underway.
The Vuelta a San Juan has replaced San Luis as a starting point for the season, following its cancellation towards the end of last year. The Vuelta a San Juan will begin on January 23 and consists of seven stages, including one time trial, and finishes on January 29.
Vincenzo Nibali is set to make his debut with Bahrain-Merida in the Vuelta a San Juan, with Bauke Mollema and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segfredo) also expected to ride. UAE Abu Dhabi are the fourth WorldTour team on the start list, with Bardiani-CSF, UnitedHealthcare, Nippo-Fantini, Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Androni Giocattoli the ProContinental teams set to take part in the race.
Boonen last rode in Argentina, at the Tour de San Luis, in 2014 and in 2012 before that, where he won the final stage ahead of Andrea Guardini.
“I’ve started the season several times in Argentina, but last year I couldn’t be there unfortunately due to the crash in Abu Dhabi,” said Boonen.
“In my opinion, Argentina is one of the best places to kick off the season thanks to the great temperatures, good roads, and spectators who always give you a warm welcome. And also the parcours is something I like, because is well-balanced. That’s why I’m really looking forward to race San Juan.”
Riding alongside Boonen will be rising talent Fernando Gaviria, who Boonen says will be the team’s main sprinter.
Gaviria made his name racing in Argentina by winning two stages of the Tour de San Luis in 2015, beating Mark Cavendish on both occasions. Gaviria spent much of his first professional season switching between track and road but with the Olympics behind him, he will focus fully on the road in 2017.
“I will try to get a victory but I don’t want to take many risks due to my big goal in April and because we have a great sprinter like Fernando Gaviria in the team who is in charge to take the final sprint,” said Boonen.
Completing the team will be neo-pro Remi Cavagna, new signing Tim Declercq, Max Richeze and Pieter Serry.