Tom was coming classic sea otter in Monterey, California, to promote it class transmission company. Even amid a sea of 74,000 people, the tall Belgian stood out.
We said hi, had a short chat and exchanged numbers to meet up for a proper chat later in the weekend. When that time came, we wandered through the sandy and windy setting in search of a little peace.
Along the way, we talked easily. It’s in Flemish, and I’m in Dutch. We chatted about the recent bike races we’d watched and shared our mutual fondness for handmade steel bikes and vintage motorcycles. He stopped to show me pictures of his blonde twin princesses on his phone. I showed him the 1982 Honda Twinstar that turned into a cafe racer during the pandemic.
Not once did a fan interrupt us.
I am sure that if this meeting had taken place in Belgium, things would certainly have turned out differently. But Tom seems to prefer it this way. Throughout the four days of the exhibition, he generously gave his time to everyone. Even a group of amateur mountain bikers who were helping themselves freely to get the free beer offered at the various stalls yelled fighting at Tom to come take a group photo. They had no idea who he was but Tom, de Pom Van Balen, patiently carried out the request. Well am I ready? a smile!
There is no singer behavior here.
At 41, Tom Boonen was sitting in front of me with his light beard and his eyes hidden behind them. dark pilots He still looks decent as a violin and devilishly handsome. His second career as a racing car driver suited him. Leaning on the table, Tom, as well as the smiling tattoo on his forearm, smiles at me.
“Do you know New Pet?” Asked. “It was the beginning of all electronic dance music in Belgium. New Beat had a smile as its symbol and every 16-year-old puts that smile on his jeans jacket.” It was also a code for XTC tablets, but I decided not to deviate in drug talk.
Another ink on Tom’s body depicts his old Porsche Turbo, a heart shaped like a heart of two tiny hands to represent his twin daughters, and “Choose Life,” the famous words of the 1996 movie Trainspotting. The film begins with a monologue for the film’s hero, heroin addict Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor. “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose mega-television,” Renton begins. The monologue ends with the words, “Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do something like this? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else.”
For Tom, this tattoo is his take the chance.
“For me, that means that every morning when I wake up I can choose to be happy or I choose not to be happy. So I choose life. Too simple. Too dry,” he says. “There’s no reason to walk around in a bad mood.”
From where I sit, I see ink signs for cars, family, and life, but not those related to cycling. Where does cycling stand in his daily life? Although talks about a Back in 2019-Has that flame waned?
“My kids come before anything, of course, but the bike? Well…the cars rank much higher than the bike at the moment,” said the four-time winner at Paris-Roubaix.
In fact, he hadn’t cycled for four months before coming to the Sea Otter Classic in April, where he was asked to take part in a publicity tour.
“I still love sports. And the bike itself is special. I had Very nice steel bike Made when I rode, and I love it so much, but somehow, I missed cycling. The best days of cycling are over. I’ve never felt so happy as before.”
“You just feel that decline. Getting older is tougher on the bike. I no longer have the ambition to spend 20-25 hours on my bike every week. I know a lot of former pros ride that much. And I get it but for me, right now, No… he’ll probably come back.”
However, the former world champion still loves to push his body. He runs three times a week, and was proud to break the 45-minute mark with 10K. He also does high-intensity circuit training to help him race car.
Circuit training has a very good effect on my body, and physical preparation determines your mental freshness. [Car racing] It takes so much mental preparation that you just have to be good physically,” Tom explains. “The more you suffer physically, the more mentally you take a toll.”
Tom Boonen, professional racing car driver
Tom has always loved cars, and his entry into motorsports was planned. He made his VW Fun Cup debut at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in July 2017, just three months after ending his cycling career. He made his full season racing debut next year at NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for Braxx racing in the Elite 2 class. Since then, he has raced in the Belcar Series, Supercar Challenge and Carrera Cup. the dream? Lou Man.
“You know, when I raced my first race about five years ago now, I was really scared. I haven’t felt scared in years. I had palpitations,… I felt like I was alive again. The race starts with pure adrenaline,” he says, As he folds his arms in front of him in a short wave of energy.
“Now I’m at a level where this is finally starting to feel a little bit more comfortable. You have to get to know yourself all over again. You race against yourself. You don’t race with the rest. I’m the weak link in the car. This car can do what it can, and I’m from I make mistakes and I love it [challenge] very much.”
We have now touched on the topic of motor racing, and Tom’s face lit up perfectly. The youthful exuberance, the joy, the energy that radiates from him… be in contrast to his age and he looks like a child in love. This is a four-time winner of the Paris-Roubaix, a three-time winner of the Tour of Flanders, and he is wearing a former rainbow jersey with the six stages of the Tour de France to his name and still a green jersey hanging in his foyer. He is arguably the greatest single day racer of his generation, yet somehow he looks like a life from the past now. This guy in front of me looks like he’s living his best life ever. I don’t think I’ve seen him happier or more satisfied.
When I point to him, his smile increases. “I drove on Friday before I got on the plane, so I’m happy,” he shrugged.
Maybe that love for his second sports career comes from the fact that it’s still new to him, and doesn’t make him feel as old as he does with cycling.
“The nice thing about motorsport, as I’ve noticed to myself, is that you can get better at it for a long time. It’s really technical and now I’m just getting a little bit better at it,” Tom explains. “It’s about learning to get the most out of the car, respecting the tires, optimizing the settings, and it really is a sport to feel. People always think about top speeds and the danger of it, but it’s actually more like balancing on a tightrope. Even the smallest of inputs can make a big difference. The smarter and calmer I get, the better. And as I get older, I just feel calm.”
Tom is still a fan of cycling, and can often be found on the fringes of the big races. He was there, for example, to witness the amazing rise of Tadej Pogačar on Oude Kwaremont in the latest edition of Flanders. “That’s the second time…I’ve never seen anything like this,” Tom says.
“Modern cycling is so much fun. Tour winners who come to ride the classics, all-rounders who will race anywhere and be good everywhere. I would have thought hyperspecialized [in the sport] It was going to get worse, but that’s not the case at all. These guys are showing us that we’ve been doing everything wrong. I really like it, and I wish I was racing now.”
Can he keep up? Let’s say he’s been in fitness from that productive classic season of 2012, could he give Mathieu van der Poel or Wut van Aert some competition?
“I do not know. I want to say yes, I have to say yes. Could?” he asks. “I think a lot has changed. I would have loved to do all of that in the past, but it was always met with ‘No, that’s not possible. We need to be more specialized. I think we ended up racing in a lot of races where we couldn’t do anything because we were tired,’ And we were there against our will. We should have raced a lot less and targeted the races with full enthusiasm. We didn’t know anything better after that. It was just another time.”
Tom points out that nowadays, riders train more but race less. As a result, they arrive fresher and better prepared, both physically and mentally. Equipment and technology also play a big role in taking the sport to the high level it is today.
“Bikes, helmets, clothes – everything gets faster and faster. Everyone is expertly prepared when they start, the whole peloton does that and so the whole sport level up. And then you have this super talent,” says Tom.
Superhuman Or young, ambitious and well-equipped talent?
“I really think 99.99 percent of these riders don’t intentionally do doping,” says Tom Don, without turning away from my blatant insinuation. “I think there was a pretty big shift in doping between 2000 and 2010. Yes, it took a long time before everyone was on board and before he really got out of the peloton, but I don’t think there is still a huge mistake or that the difference She’s still consciously doing shady things. Of course not.”
Tom reveals to me that he is a huge fan of MvdP, and rather than fearing the number of great classics will be underestimated, he is looking forward to welcoming the multi-talented Dutch superstar into his ranks.
“I’ll be there cheerful,” he says. “I love watching him do whatever he wants. I think Wout is a great rider too but with him it’s all so thoughtful, balanced and planned. More automated. With Mathieu you can just tell how much fun he’s having. I love it. He also has other things in his life outside of The race. This should be an example for young people: do what you have to do to be good at what you love to do, but don’t make it all you have. There should be room to breathe too.”
Will he meet Van der Poel or even the best of his classics?
“If you get into a race, you can win,” Tom says clearly. Mathieu hasn’t started yet to win Paris-Roubaix, but he has now won the Tour of Flanders twice. He can win it five or six times, sure, but it’s also possible that he won’t win again. I think Mathieu is in a different position than I was. He’s the leader. The only one in a very good team, while we always started with us with two or three candidates. It’s not always about the ability or ability of the rider as much as the structure of the team, I think. Can he do it? Absolutely. Will he do it? We will see. Anything can happen something. It’s still cycling.”