Tom Boonen: "In my dreams, I drop everyone on Carrefour de l'Arbre and solo to victory"
A four-time winner of the "Queen of the Classics", the Belgian is keen on giving it his all before saying goodbye to the sport.
On Sunday, Tom Boonen will line out in Compiègne for his final pro race: Paris-Roubaix. Fittingly, the last six hours of his career will come at the event which saw him rise to prominence back in 2002, when he was an unknown quantity for that time's peloton.
Since then, the Quick-Step Floors rider has emerged as one of the finest Classics riders in history, adorning his palmares with seven Monument victories which make him joint record-holder at both Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, in addition to a rainbow jersey, eight Grand Tour stages and countless wins in one-day races.
The road on which he started 15 years ago will come to an end on Sunday afternoon, when Tom will try to conquer the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones one more time and become the first rider in history with five triumphs.
"The past ten days have been really crazy. Many people came to support me at Flanders and Scheldeprijs, to cheer for me and thank me, so I would like to say thank you back. Now one more race stands between me and retirement, but I'm not going to let things become emotional. It's what I decided last year and I'm in peace with my decision. When you start your career as a pro, you know it will stop one day, and for me that day has come", said Tom Boonen ahead of his final challenge.
Now 36 years of age, the charismatic Belgian wants to go out in style and have the perfect ride into retirement, but is aware that even if he succeeds, it will be at the end of a hard-fought and brutal race.
"I'm in a very good condition, but this doesn't mean automatically I will win, because Roubaix is the sum of many factors. In my dreams, I drop everyone on Carrefour de l'Arbre and solo to victory; I'm not saying it's impossible, just that it will be very hard, because all the other riders will build their strategy around us, like they did in the past years. On the other hand, if they focus only on me, they too will lose the race. Long story short, it will be a stressful day, but we are looking to it with confidence", concluded the most decorated rider in cobbled classics history.
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