Referring to Tom Boonen as a sprinter is justified but everybody knows that he is much more than that as he excels in all the Spring Classics. The popular blonde from Balen is known and - dare we say it - loved by everyone in Belgium. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé caught up with 'Tommeke' at one of the first semi-classics of the 2007 season; Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne:
The young Quick Step leader is so popular with fans in his home country in fact that he is mobbed everywhere he goes. Was the apartment he bought in Monaco last year as much for him to get a break from the fans as a sunny base for long winter training rides? "Actually I'm enjoying all of this attention right now," Boonen said on Sunday in Kuurne. "It feels good to be back at the start of these races."
Boonen was relaxed while autograph seekers and reporters scrambled for his attention. We referred him to the 'groupies' that wander around him, some trying to catch his eye just before we talked with him. "Which nice girls do you mean, I didn't see any," Boonen laughed. "Ah, this is all just fun, anyway it's better to enjoy it than to dislike it."
The conversation switched immediately to racing. On Saturday, in Omloop Het Volk, Boonen scratched his way back into contention after a strong Stuart O'Grady and Juan Antonio Flecha stayed away for the last hour of the race. "That was a pleasant tension," Boonen said. "I like that atmosphere not only during the race but also outside of it. I had a lot of fun yesterday although I used four to five cartridges - especially when I tried to decide the race by bridging up with O'Grady and Flecha in one effort. It was a breaking point that I couldn't catch them and even with four guys we almost didn't make it. They must've been riding extremely hard."
Read the complete Tom Boonen interview here.