“Tornado Tom” Boonen, the former World Road Cycling Champion and Paris-Roubaix winner, recently told Sporza that he is itching to return to bike racing, gravel racing.
“I’m considering looking for some competition on the bike again. I still have a little doubts, but it’s starting to itch again,” he said.
Boonen, 42, retired in 2017 after spending fifteen years in the pro peloton amassing one of the most impressive list of road victories, ever. As a one-day classics specialist he was unstoppable, winning the World Road Championships in 2005, Paris-Roubaix four times, Tour of Flanders three times, Ghent-Wevelgem three times, E3 Harelbike five times, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne three times and six Tour de France stages.
While Boonen will certainly not race in those same top tier events again, he is intrigued by gravel racing, “…it is becoming very big, has a lot of potential. I get it, because it harks back to the essence of cycling: nature, freedom, …”
After winning the Hell of The North Paris-Roubaix race four times, one of cycling’s oldest and greatest one-day monuments, making the transition to gravel would seem like a no-brainer for Boonen.
He might even show up at a UCI Gravel World Series event, qualify for the worlds and then line up at the UCI Gravel World Championships. Although it is unknown whether he would choose to race in the amateur 40-44 year-old male category or with the elite riders.
No doubt, his peer group hopes he chooses the latter option…