If the Belgian press is to be believed, Tom Boonen could be making a comeback in the near future. We'll need to see it to believe it, but certainly the four-time Paris-Roubaix winner has been missed since retiring immediately after the 2017 Roubaix, where he finished 13th.
This is a replica of the special, custom-painted Specialized S-Works Roubaix bike used by Boonen in his last race as a professional – albeit different in a few ways, including being a disc-brake version, rather than the rim-brake version the Belgian used.
Boonen truly leapt into the cycling world's consciousness when, in 2002, he rode to a surprise third place at that spring's Paris-Roubaix. Ostensibly there to help out US Postal team leader George Hincapie, the Belgian was left to ride for himself after Hincapie crashed out.
Boonen went on to join Quick-Step for the 2003 season, and would stay with the Belgian super-team for the rest of his career. It was an illustrious one, too, which would include four Paris-Roubaix victories, three wins at the Tour of Flanders, six Tour de France stage wins, and the green jersey there in 2007, and the road race world title in 2005.
By 2017, Boonen had achieved more than any rider of his type – a Classics specialist who was able to sprint with the best – could hope to achieve, and he decided to hang up his wheels after April's Roubaix.
The then 36-year-old used his custom-painted white-with-gold-decals frame at both his final Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders a week previously, but mechanical problems with both his main bike and then his spare bike left Boonen to trail home in 37th place at Flanders.
Expectations were therefore high for his final race, with Boonen having won Roubaix in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012. His Quick-Step team later explained that he chose rim brakes over disc brakes for the simple reason that he was likely to get faster, more abundant mechanical assistance in the event of a puncture. As recently as then in 2017, still relatively few pro riders chose disc brakes anyway. In the short interim, that's completely changed, and riders rocking rim brakes have become the minority these days.
That perhaps makes this example even more desirable, as amateur enthusiasts, further persuaded by the current fashion for disc-braked gravel bikes, have begun to eschew rim-brake models in favour of discs.
Limited-edition, gold-decalled Roval Rapide CLX50 clincher wheels, meanwhile, look very similar to the tubular wheelset used by Boonen, and really help make the bike stand out as something special, with 28mm Specialized Turbo Cotton road bike tyres finishing off the wheels nicely.
The carbon-framed bike also features Specialized's CG-R seatpost – although Boonen plumped for a standard post for both Flanders and Roubaix. The CG-R post on this bike used to come as standard on the Roubaix model, and features a flexible 'zigzag' shape at the top of the carbon post, between which is a Zertz elastomer to help try to soak up the bumps on rough roads.
Boonen rode Specialized's Romin saddle for Flanders and Roubaix, but this bike on eBay comes with a special-edition Chicane model, decorated with a 'Lion of Flanders' in celebration mode, clutching a Roubaix winner's cobblestone and a bottle of champagne.
The seller is also including a second special-edition Chicane saddle, although neither a picture nor a description of its design is included in the post. Also included is a second set of gold handlebar tape, which you could wrap over the top of the current tape if you really wanted to give it the genuine Boonen look, as he always rode with double-wrapped bars – whether at Roubaix or otherwise.
The bike comes with SRAM's Red eTap electronic groupset, while Boonen used Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 componentry for his final outings. We'd certainly be happy with either, though, and the UK-based seller is asking £6,700 (US$8,300) for the complete bike.
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