Boonen: “Being second here after those tough months in the winter is a win”

After one of the best editions in the history of the “Hell of the North”, Tom Boonen, four-time champion in the race, added another strong result to his impressive palmares.

Tom Boonen was one of the 199 riders to line up in Compiègne’s Place du Général-de-Gaullefor at the start of Paris-Roubaix, a race which will forever bear his mark thanks to the four victories that he scored in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Supported by a very strong outfit, which included also Tony Martin and Niki Terpstra, the 35-year-old showed his intentions right from the beginning, when the team rode hard, at first to send a man in the break, and then, once an escape was formed without an Etixx – Quick-Step rider, by controlling the group at the front and not giving it too much of a space.

“Trying to win my fifth Roubaix never turned out to be an easy task, and coming here today I had a couple of obstacles. I am proud of myself for making it so far, but looking behind I can see how difficult it was. On the last lap, my plan was to take the lead in the final corner, but I had to wait for 30 meters, because Sep was on my side and there wasn’t any space, so those 30 meters cost me the victory.”

“Just this morning I got the message from my doctor who treated me in Abu Dhabi, saying that today was the day in which I should have looked at my bike again, so that means that I’m ahead of the schedule”, Tom Boonen said at the press conference after returning on the Paris-Roubaix podium for the first time in four years.

The Belgian also made an analysis of the way the race went since the start and of the finale which saw five men play for the win in the “Queen of the Classics”: “Our team had a well-defined plan, and that was to make the race as hard as possible. We tried to go in the breakaway, but everyone was chasing us, so then, after the 16 riders got clear, we began to work. Tony Martin did an incredible job today, he kept on going and gave it his all. It was a standard Paris-Roubaix, a crazy race, chaotic, with crashes and flat tires. All five which were in the front had our share of work, and we were all tired. I tried to attack a couple of times, but it was very hard to get away, because everybody knew that I was aiming for my fifth victory. Mathew turned out to be the strongest and deserves to get such a victory after a career of helping people out and not scoring the big wins, so congrats to him for today.”

Many were curious to find out what was Tom Boonen’s top emotion at the end of the day, and he made some light on this, while also offering some hints related to his future: “I’m not sure how I will feel on Monday, but at the moment I am happy with my performance, because it was hard to come back at this level after that injury. Maybe coming second it’s not so bad in the end and will give me that extra motivation for another year. At this moment I don’t really see a reason why I shouldn’t come back next season.”