Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has chosen to call upon a French civil court in Nanterre to decide whether or not Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen should be allowed to take part in the upcoming Tour de France, starting July 4. In the confrontation between the ProTour team and the Tour de France organiser ASO, Lefevere had threatened to take legal action if Boonen was excluded from the race. It was believed that he would summon the Court of Arbitration of the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF), but now the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre will decide the case.
The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, and the decision expected on Friday, June 26 - one week before the Tour de France start in Monaco.
Meanwhile, Boonen himself is apprehensive as he awaits the outcome of the legal action. Speaking to Belgian sports TV show Sportweekend, Boonen admitted that the conflict has overshadowed his preparation for the Tour and will be a burden weighing on his performances, should he be able to participate.
"Firstly, I am not welcome, and secondly, I won't be fresh mentally." - Boonen on racing this year's Tour de France
"The uncertainty drives you nuts," he said, not knowing whether he will be at the start of the Grand Tour in 10 days' time. "It will not be simple to start a hard Tour like that. Firstly, I am not welcome, and secondly, I won't be fresh mentally."
Should Boonen be allowed to start there will be added pressure on him from the entire Quick Step team. In recent weeks the Belgian squad has made clear the importance, for them, of the sprinter’s presence at the Tour. "They expect you to be motivated at a 100 percent from the very first day and if you don't win for two days, they'll ask: 'why?'," said Boonen.
Nevertheless, the Belgian remained optimistic about his participation. "I'm almost certain that everything will work out," he said. "But this development is against my principles. I would have preferred to find a solution with a dialogue, but this is impossible now. I will just try to make the best out of the situation."