A great cycling party awaited the Belgian legend, who crossed the finish line for the last time in his career on Saturday afternoon.
29 April 2017 will go down in history as the day Tom Boonen bided farewell to cycling, as he raced for the final time in the Quick-Step Floors kit which throughout his career he sported on the top of the podium on more than 100 occasions. The 36-year-old, who officially retired after Paris-Roubaix, welcomed in his hometown of Mol his teammates, former teammates, as well as many riders of today's peloton, against whom he raced in the past seasons, for the "Tom says Thanks" event.
Alessandro Ballan, Marco Bandiera, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin De Weert, Kevin Hulsmans, Oscar Freire, Johan Museeuw, Nick Nuyens, Gert Steegmans, Tom Steels, Matteo Tosatto, Peter Van Petegem, Johan Vansummeren, Erik Zabel and Stefano Zanini – riders who between them have won numerous World Titles, Monuments and Grand Tour stages – all came to Zilvermeer to say goodbye to Tom and take part in the first race of the day, on a 1800m-long course which they covered 15 times.
Later in the afternoon, it was André Boonen, Tom's father, the one who waved the flag and signaled the start of the pro race, which saw Laurens De Plus, Fernando Gaviria, Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Marcel Kittel, Yves Lampaert, Pieter Serry, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra, Petr Vakoč, Julien Vermote, Tiesj Benoot, Oliver Naesen, Filippo Pozzato, Jurgen Roelandts, Peter Sagan and Stijn Vandenbergh race alongside Tom in his final race, at the end of which the Belgian legend crossed the finish line arms raised in the air, saluting the 20 000 fans who came to see ride for one last time.
On the podium, where he was joined also by his two-year-old twins Jacqueline and Valentine, Tom received a special gift from his Quick-Step Floors teammates: a customized helmet, engraved "King Boonen", to help him in his new "career" as a racing driver, which the 36-year-old is keen to embrace in the near future.
"It was awkward today in the final kilometers, when I became aware that one important chapter of my career is coming to an end. I was relaxed and tried to enjoy every moment as much as possible, in front of this fantastic crowd. I want to thank the fans and all the riders who came today, together they made this day really special", said Tom Boonen after the race in Zilvermeer.
Photo credit: (c)Photonews