Boonen to retire in five years

Way to go: Boonen crowned new World Champion

Way to go: Boonen crowned new World Champion (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

World Road champion Tom Boonen, who is currently on the Caribbean island Curaçao (dutch Antilles), has said that he will not continue to race as a professional bike rider beyond the age of 30. While enjoying a holiday on tropical beaches, the 25 year-old is also participating in the Amstel Curaçao Race, the first race in which he will wear his rainbow-coloured jersey.

But Boonen knows that repeating his 2005 successes (Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, World Championships etc.) will be very difficult in the next season, and believes that he might not be able to hold his current level in a few year's time. "Many riders of the last generation continued until they're 35, but I won't," the Flemish superstar told Belgian media. "I hope to give the best of myself on the highest level for the next five years, then I'll stop."

Boonen is also heavily in demand by the media. "Everybody wants me on their cover," he continued. "They're asking if I can walk on the catwalk. Sometimes, these things are fun, but it shouldn't get too crazy. I can't understand that people see me as their idol - maybe because I never had one, neither."

As for his 2006 season plans, the Belgian is ready to take up the challenge. "Every top sportsman has moments in his career where he performs in a unique way," he said. "I've done it this season for the first time in my career, and I hope it's not the last time. It will be difficult, but I do like a bit of a challenge! And my performances in this year didn't surprise me that much, really. It was more the way I handled them that puzzled me. I was very strong tactically speaking: to assess the parcours, grasp my rivals. In the classics, the race situation changes every five minutes, and my greatest strength was that I kept my calm in all circumstances. I'm proud of that."

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