Four-time winner of Paris-Roubaix, Tom Boonen, has not ruled out a possible return to racing at the highest level when he was asked about it on Belgian radio, Sporza reports.
Boonen, 39, was on Studio Brussel promoting his new TV series, Tom Cycle, shown on Belgian TV. But when presenter Michèle Cuvelier moved onto his retirement he was rather open about a possible come back and on his life since retiring.
The former world champion said: “I still watch a lot of competitions because I am an analyst. I still cycle occasionally to try to stay fit. However, that is not as good as before.”
Retiring after the 2017 Paris-Roubaix, Boonen says he has gained more experience since retiring: “I find it very strange, but I actually have a lot more experience than when I was racing myself.
“Then I shielded myself a lot more. And you were in the middle of it. You are one of the key figures and you actually get very little. You are also protected. You are in hotels or you are training at home. Everything that happens right around you.”
Boonen continues: “Then you go to such a start of a race, you are in that race and you can decide it yourself.
“Now, if I watch TV or go to a race, everything happens without you having a handle on it. Making that switch is still difficult for me, I think. I live much harder with the race now and go much harder than I used to.”
Over his amazing career, Boonen won 121 races including four-editions of Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships road race, along with six stages of the Tour de France and three Tour of Flanders titles.
In his final appearance for Quick-Step Floors, now Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Boonen finished 13th in Roubaix. A strong display by any normal rider, but from a four-time winner it will have been the disappointing end.
The comeback conversation ended after a listener called in and asked is Boonen would try and win Paris-Roubaix “one more time for us?”
“Can I think about it for a very long time and very hard?” he replied.
“I sometimes wonder myself the same question,” he admitted.
“Last week I said, how easy or how hard would it be? I sometimes ask myself that question. Certainly because of the return of [tennis player] Kim (Clijsters). It is an option.”
Kim Clijsters returned to professional tennis after a period away from the sport with great success and is making a second comeback this year, eight years after retiring.
If Boonen were to return he would face young riders like Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) as well as long established stars like Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), among others.
He said: “I will be 40 at the end of this year. If I ever have to do it once, it’s going to have to be now.”