Boonen won the National Championship for the first time in his career!
Tom Boonen won his first Belgian national road title Sunday in Aywaille, in a group sprint. The controversial Quick Step sprinter beat Philippe Gilbert and Kristof Goddaert.
A group of 17 got away early on the rolling course, but were unable to stay until the end. Silence-Lotto sent Dries Devenyns and Kevin De Weert, but they, too, were caught with 25 km to go. On the final climb, Gilbert tried to get away, but even with the support of two teammates was unable to hold his lead. A large group sprinted for the finish line, with former World Champion Boonen taking the win.
"Today I wasn't among the top favourites, and I knew that in order to win a race like this one I had to be having a great day and not make any mistakes. I did it!" said Boonen.
"This is a small disappointment," said Gilbert. "I made no mistakes in the sprint. I was beaten by one of the best in the peloton."
Court to deal with Boonen case on Thursday By:Hedwig KrönerPublished:June 23, 10:05,Updated:June 24, 06:32Edition:Latest Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Tour or no Tour? Boonen will know soon Decision expected on Friday, Boonen uneasy about Tour participation
Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has chosen to call upon a French civil court in Nanterre to decide whether or not Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen should be allowed to take part in the upcoming Tour de France, starting July 4. In the confrontation between the ProTour team and the Tour de France organiser ASO, Lefevere had threatened to take legal action if Boonen was excluded from the race. It was believed that he would summon the Court of Arbitration of the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF), but now the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre will decide the case.
"Firstly, I am not welcome, and secondly, I won't be fresh mentally." - Boonen on racing this year's Tour de France
The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, and the decision expected on Friday, June 26 - one week before the Tour de France start in Monaco.
Meanwhile, Boonen himself is apprehensive as he awaits the outcome of the legal action. Speaking to Belgian sports TV show Sportweekend, Boonen admitted that the conflict has overshadowed his preparation for the Tour and will be a burden weighing on his performances, should he be able to participate.
"The uncertainty drives you nuts," he said, not knowing whether he will be at the start of the Grand Tour in 10 days' time. "It will not be simple to start a hard Tour like that. Firstly, I am not welcome, and secondly, I won't be fresh mentally."
Should Boonen be allowed to start there will be added pressure on him from the entire Quick Step team. In recent weeks the Belgian squad has made clear the importance, for them, of the sprinter's presence at the Tour. "They expect you to be motivated at a 100 percent from the very first day and if you don't win for two days, they'll ask: 'why?'," said Boonen.
Nevertheless, the Belgian remained optimistic about his participation. "I'm almost certain that everything will work out," he said. "But this development is against my principles. I would have preferred to find a solution with a dialogue, but this is impossible now. I will just try to make the best out of the situation."
Boonen may escape criminal charges for cocaine By:CyclingnewsPublished:June 20, 22:07,Updated:June 20, 22:10Edition:First Edition Cycling News, June 21, 2009
Despite parole violation, Quick Step sprinter may get leniency
Quick Step sprinter Tom Boonen may escape face criminal charges stemming from his 2008 out-of-competition positive test for cocaine use, Het Nieuwsblad reported Saturday. The word comes from prosecutors who gave the Belgian a suspended sentence for the incident, stating that being denied participation in that year's Tour de France was punishment enough.
The decision was contingent on Boonen remaining drug-free for three years. Despite breaking his probation with a second cocaine positive on April 25, 2009, the prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will pursue him for last year's offense.
Boonen has been denied entry into the Tour de France for the second consecutive year due to his post-Paris-Roubaix winning party habit. The Tour organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) has made it clear that Boonen is not welcome in their race, but his team has threatened to take legal action to ensure their star sprinter can participate.
The International Cycling Union has stated that it would not pursue disciplinary action against the rider for his positive tests, since cocaine is not banned out of competition.
Belgian organisers of the post-Tour Broker Criterium have said that whatever the outcome, Boonen will be welcome at their event. The race's President Denis Bolle objected to what he said are double standards of the ASO. A press release by the race pointed out that the decision goes against the European Social Charter and an individual's right to work.
"May I point out that other European countries are not even reporting out-of-competition cocaine positives? If Boonen was a Frenchman, then the ASO would have no case against Boonen."
Quick Step to challenge Tour on Boonen By:CyclingnewsPublished:June 19, 11:44,Updated:June 19, 13:18Edition:Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 19, 2009Race:Tour de France
Lefevere and Quick Step lawyers preparing to take on Tour organisers
Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has expressed his anger at the news that Tom Boonen would not be allowed to participate in the upcoming Tour de France. The Belgian had hoped that Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) would welcome the world-class sprinter into its event despite his recent problems with the recreational drug cocaine, however ASO officials preferred to protect the image of the world's biggest Grand Tour and shut the door to the Quick Step rider.
Speaking to L'Equipe on Thursday, Lefevere had not yet received ASO's statement, and was both surprised and angry at the news of Boonen's exclusion. "Their answer is really 'no'? If that's what they want, then I will take them to court and it's going to go very far. As of now, I will turn off my phone and discuss with my lawyers which official stance we will present," said Lefevere.
Johnny Maeschalck, Quick Step team lawyer, was ready to get to work. "How can you judge or exclude someone on the basis of a report that doesn't even exist?," he asked. "That's the whole contradiction of this sport where, for some people, law does not count inside the sports stadium. There is no reason - be it based on the law or on sports rules - to prohibit him from racing the Tour de France."
According to L'Equipe, Lefevere had thought that chances were good for his star rider to be included in the 2009 Tour roster because the International Cycling Union (UCI) had reportedly refrained from launching a disciplinary procedure "for damaging the image of cycling" against Boonen. A few days ago, ASO officials still said they would make their decision based on the UCI's stance in the case. Lefevere's only resort now will be to mount an appeal at the Chamber of Arbitration for Sport (CNOSF).
ASO rejects Boonen for Tour By:CyclingnewsPublished:June 18, 17:39,Updated:June 18, 19:48Race:Tour de France
Organizer says Quick Step sprinter's image is incompatible with the Tour
The Tour de France organizers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have issued a decree: Tom Boonen is not welcome at the Tour this year. If the ASO has its way, the Belgian sprinter will sit out the race for the second consecutive year after testing positive out of competition for cocaine.
The ASO said it "can only note that the image and the behavior of Tom Boonen are incompatible with the image of the Tour de France and that which an exceptional champion like him has to convey."
In order to "preserve its reputation", the Tour bosses have refused to allow the Quick Step rider into the race, despite assurances from his team that they will take legal action to force the race to accept him.
Boonen's positive tests are not considered doping offenses since cocaine use is not banned out of competition by the World Anti-doping Agency's code.
Boonen can appeal the ASO's decision to the Chamber of Arbitration for Sport (CNOSF).
Boonen's cocaine use thrown into confusion By:Hedwig Kröner, Published:June 18, 09:07, Updated:June 18, 11:41
New hair analysis suggests only indirect contact with the drug
Following further analysis of Tom Boonen's hair samples, expert toxicologists have said that he used only a small amount of cocaine this spring. The Quick Step rider tested positive for a third time in an out of competition for the drug in April, less than 12 months after he tested positive the first time in May 2008.
"He was exposed to very small quantities and is not a chronic user." - Toxicologist Kintz on Tom Boonen.
Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere decided to conduct drug tests on Boonen's hair after the third positive was revealed, according to L'Equipe. "Tom told us that he hadn't taken anything. We wanted to be absolutely sure," said Lefevere, who asked university professors Pascal Kintz in Strasbourg, France, and Jan Tytgat in Leuven, Belgium, to conduct the analysis.
Both experts found traces of the drug in the hair samples of Boonen, a three-time Paris-Roubaix winner, but said that they were only very small amounts.
Kintz found 0,09 ng/mg, while "we speak of a positive result when it exceeds 0.5 nanogrammes per milligramme. One thing is certain: he was exposed to very small quantities and is not a chronic user," he said. Kintz concluded that the Belgian sprinter might not have actually snorted the drug, but that his contact with the substance could have been coincidental – by a contaminated drink, a handshake or particles of cocaine in the air.
But Tytgat did not quite agree. "To me, it is very unlikely that cocaine traces in the hair can be a result of a handshake or particles in the air. If there are hair traces, then there has been a direct contact," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.
Tytgat did not exclude that Boonen could have taken in small amounts of the substance by means of a drink. "It is possible not to have snorted, but still show minimal traces, for example via a drink. But you cannot examine that," he told another Belgian newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad.
The new expertise comes with only two weeks to go to the Tour de France. Lefevere insists that Boonen has a right to participate, as he is not suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI), but race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) is reluctant to let him take the start.
The UCI is expected to take a stance on the case soon, but Lefevere has already indicated that he will take legal action if ASO decides not to let Boonen participate. (HK)
Boonen races Tour de France Latest Cycling News, June 10, 2009
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme welcomed Tom Boonen to this year's Tour de France at a meeting today in Paris despite the Belgian cyclist's positive test for cocaine in April. The winner of this year's Paris-Roubaix and six Tour de France stages had threatened legal action if forbidden to race.
Prudhomme made the announcement at a meeting with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and French anti-doping agency (AFLD). The parties met to discuss the Tour de France anti-doping controls.
Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) prohibited Boonen last month from racing the Tour de France, July 4 to 26.
Boonen tested positive for cocaine in an out of competition control on April 27. It was the third occasion he tested positive for cocaine. He missed the Tour de France in 2008 because of his second cocaine positive.