Scheldeprijs race to celebrate Boonen with hometown start in Mol

Tom Boonen has revealed that next spring’s Scheldeprijs race will start in his hometown of Mol, northeast of Antwerp, with the sprinters' Classic his last race in Belgium before he ends his career at Paris-Roubaix a few days later.

The race traditionally starts in the docklands of nearby Antwerp but will be moved to honour Boonen's career.

"I was incredibly honoured when the organizers of the Scheldeprijs put their plan to me. I feel especially proud and grateful," Boonen said at a special announcement.

"It'll be a unique day for my fans and promises to be extra busy with the start in Mol but I'm happy about it. Of course I'll quick go to bed afterwards because I remain ambitious for Paris-Roubaix."

Race organiser Flanders Classics said the new route would complete a loop in the Flemish countryside before returning to Mol. The traditional race will be joined after 108km near Tielen and then go on to complete several circuits in Schoten that traditionally host the finish. Marcel Kittel beat Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel to win this year's Scheldeprijs.

Boonen ended speculation about his retirement plans by signing a new contract with Etixx-Quickstep in July. He was out of contract at the end of 2016 and had attracted interest from the likes of Lotto Soudal before committing to a 15th season with the Etixx-QuickStep. Boonen joined the team back in 2003 and has enjoyed over 100 professional victories since with Patrick Lefevere's squad, with highlights including the 2005 World Championships, four Paris-Roubaix wins and three Tour of Flanders titles.

Now 35, Boonen suffered a fracture skull at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Tour and missed a lot of winter training but recovered in time to finish second in Paris-Roubaix behind Matt Hayman (Orica- BikeExchange). Immediately after announcing his new contract Boonen won a stage of the Tour de Wallonie and then took the RideLondon Classic with a powerful sprint up the Mall in the centre of the British capital.

He is due to ride the Brussels Cycling Classic on Saturday and the Gran Prix de Fourmies in France on Sunday before using the Eneco Tour in Belgium and the Netherlands as build up to this year's world road race championships in Qatar – where he was won the Tour of Qatar four times and taken 22 stage victories.

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