After calling time on his ill-starred season last month due to a perineal cyst, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is hopeful that he can resume training at the end of September and begin his preparations for 2014.
“It’s going in the right direction,” Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad. “The skin around my perineum has grown back but now I have to let it recuperate. I tried a couple of times to ride for an hour but it’s better that I save myself now and the skin grows strong again. I hope to be back training on the bike at the end of September.”
Boonen’s 2013 campaign was plagued by problems from the very outset. Illness curtailed his winter training and the start of his season was delayed further by an infected elbow. An early crash at the Tour of Flanders put a stop to Boonen’s classics campaign, and although he returned to win a stage of the Tour de Wallonie in July, a nagging saddle sore brought his season to an early end.
Although sorry to miss out on the world championships in Florence later this month, Boonen was able to put his disappointment in perspective, acknowledging that the Tuscan course does not suit his characteristics.
“It’s always a pity to miss the Worlds but it’s a bit less painful to miss out this year,” Boonen said. “The course in Florence isn’t really for me. The disappointment was much larger when I missed out on the Worlds in 2010 and 2011 [Geelong and Copenhagen – ed.] Injury denied me two chances of being world champion again. As for Florence, I see that Philippe Gilbert is coming very good again and it would be great if he could be world champion again.”
Boonen also denied speculation that he had brought his season to an early end primarily due to exhaustion and mental fatigue, and reiterated his motivation to return to the cobbled classics and win again.
“Sure, I’ve had a lot of bad luck this year and that knocks you mentally, but the condition was there,” Boonen said. “Leading up to the Tour de Wallonie, I went altitude training with Zdenek Stybar and when I see how well Styby is performing now, I know that I could have shown some good things myself this autumn.
“[Next year] my goals are again in the spring classics, but to achieve them, it’s important that my wound heals as quickly as possible. Then I will have to start working on my condition.”