Tom Boonen has agreed to give Quick Step a decision on if he will stay with the team in 2012 before the Belgian championships on June 26. The Belgian classics rider and former world champion is riding the Tour de Suisse -that begins with a time trial today in Lugano, as his final build-up for the Tour de France.
Boonen has spent most of his career with Quick Step but has been courted by several other teams as he decides his future.
“We know what we want from each other,” Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere told Sporza. “We agreed that I am entitled to hear from him about if he will stay at Quick Step at the Belgian nationals.”
Boonen was competitive in the Spring Classics this year but only won Gent-Wevelgem. His only other win this season is a stage at the Tour of Qatar after he decided to avoid constesting several sprint finishes. However he will back in the action against Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) at the Tour de Suisse.
However Boonen doesn't have recent good memories of the race. In 2009 the race organisers told him he was not welcome due to his positive out-of-competition tests for cocaine. Last year he had to abandon the race after a high-speed crash aggravated a knee injury.
Yet the Quick Step is convinced it is the best way for him to prepare for the Tour de France.
"It's better than the Dauphine, because the riders have a longer recovery phase after the Tour of Belgium,” said team director Wilfried Peeters. “Furthermore, just look at the course. Switzerland is hard, of course, but less than the Dauphine, which is a real climber's race. At Suisse, there are a couple of stages that suit his ability. It is important that a rider has specific goals in mind.”
Peeters hopes the Tour de Suisse give Boonen “the expected step forward, so that after this race he is ready for the Belgian nationals and the Tour.”