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Former world champions agree "It was no surprise"

Johan Museeuw

"He'll only get better. A rider who's able to do what he did in a period of ten months is a super-champion," Museeuw was quoted in Gazet Van Antwerpen as saying. "I don't think of it as a shame that I'm not the last Belgian World Champion any longer. I couldn't imagine a more worthy successor. Tom is already a great champion; he will get better even and he'll always be as down to earth as he is now. His family plays an important role in that. They are very level headed people. And what is pleasing to me it that his girlfriend doesn't jump to share the limelight with him; she's not here even, she has chosen to stay on the background. That type of woman appears to be the best for a top athlete."

Eddy Merckx

"I didn't actually see Tom win. I am in America at the moment, and cycling is still an "underdog" here in the States. But I got that many telephone calls that it felt like I was in the race! If I can get the right picture from here, it couldn't have been better. The Belgians rode a perfect race and rolled out the red carpet for their key player. If I can be straight: Tom Boonen didn't surprise me. I expected him to be on the highest step of the podium in Madrid. It's not easy to fulfil the expectations put on your shoulders all the time. That's the real strength of this Boonen: he's even there when the stress-level are the highest. And he can finish it of on top of that. He has earned my respect because of it. I know what it feels like to ride your bike with all the eye of the nation staring upon you."

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