Boonen looking forward to a break

Today (Wednesday), Tom Boonen will be operated on in a Belgian hospital, and thus will finally get some rest after his very busy schedule of the last couple of days.

During a press conference in Antwerp, which was held on the Flandria boat on Tuesday afternoon, Boonen told the press that he is actually looking forward to getting some sleep. "The last 48 hours were so hectic. I'm almost happy that I'll get knocked-out on the operation table on Wednesday - that way I'll finally get some sleep. I might even ask for some extra anaesthesia," the newly crowned World Champion joked.

The press conference started with images of the WC finale. "It's the first time I saw the sprint," Tom commented afterwards "It felt quite odd. Normally, I never watch my races; don't really have the time to do that. But the images give a slightly distorted view. In fact, the front group never had that much lead. It feels good to see myself become World Champion anyway."

Tom's Rainbow Jersey was considered 'lost' after a wild night on the town in the city of Madrid. "I thought I had lost it in a night-club in Madrid, but I received an sms saying the shirt has been returned," Boonen confessed, slightly embarrassed. Apparently Boonen had trouble remembering that he had given the precious piece of clothing to two "less intoxicated" Belgian fans to safeguard it for him. On Tuesday, the jersey was returned to him as promised.

"The party on Monday night in Balen was kept short though. I got to meet with the King this morning. I spoke to him for a few minutes. We didn't talk politics or about other important things of life, just simply about the race.

"I've seen all the newspapers yes, and it's really crazy. I got so many smses, too much to read all of them, really. I just made the effort to read those sent by people I know; I've left the others untouched as yet. It gets a bit too much of a good thing."

Boonen realises very well that it will be nearly impossible for him to equal this year's results next season. Also, he will be a marked man in the peloton, having the rainbow colours on his shoulders. "I can't be more marked than I was this season, can I?" he asked. "And as far as 'the curse of the World Champion's jersey is concerned: if I don't perform well next season, that's entirely my fault, not the jersey's!

"More than likely; my program for 2006 will look the same as this year's. That means that I will start with the Tour of Qatar, then probably will ride Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. I prefer Paris-Nice myself. Not much will change. I want to win the same races I won this year. Maybe, as an extra feat, win the Green Jersey in the Tour de France. But to better than this year will be extremely hard," Boonen concluded.

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