Tom Boonen's press conference about his Ronde van Vlaanderen victory on Sunday, as well as his thoughts about Paris-Roubaix next weekend, began with a special moment.
The team invited 11-year-old fan Tjorven to the press conference. Tjorven was the young fan, caught by TV cameras in an Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team kit, on his knees in pure elation following the victory of Boonen at Ronde van Vlaanderen. The TV screen shot was then discovered on Twitter, and the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team Twitter account @opqscyclingteam promoted the image with the words "Wow. We are speechless." Just days later, on Tuesday, Boonen greeted the young fan at the speakers table before the conference began.
"It was an emotional moment when I saw this guy celebrating my victory," Boonen said of the image he was shown of Tjorven on Sunday after his win. "We had a quick chat together and the boy was really happy about it, as was I."
Boonen provided Tjorven with a team feed bag filled with gifts. Two of those gifts were a T-shirt and wristband with the words "I 'Like' #OPQS," and the team logo on the sleeve. The boy, who was excited to meet Boonen, gave Tommeke one of his own team cycling jerseys, a small rider action figure with a painted team jersey on it, and a small medallion with Saint Christoper, the patron saint of travelers.
"I put it in my pocket and told him I will keep it with me for the future," Boonen said.
Following the meeting with the rider and his young fan, Boonen addressed the press about what he has done since his victory at Ronde van Vlaanderen.
"On Sunday evening it was a normal evening at home," Boonen said. "I arrived at home, drank a good glass of wine with my family and that was all. I went to bed immediately. I was really tired. On Monday, I didn't really have a lot of time to enjoy my victory. It's unbelievable. In cycling you have to turn the page immediately, and next weekend is Paris-Roubaix. I basically tried to recover as well as possible at that point. I slept a lot. I did two hours on the bike yesterday, and two hours today. But for the rest of the time, I will still try to enjoy life at home."
Boonen said, despite the brief time period between Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, he still has enough time to acknowledge the importance of his victory.
"We are here already talking about Paris-Roubaix, but I have to say for me it was really important to win Ronde van Vlaanderen, as it was the first time on the new parcours," Boonen said. "For me, it's really a privilege. I am really happy to have won and to have shown I am able to win a different race."
As for his feeling about winning Ronde van Vlaanderen for a third time, Boonen admitted the feeling did not compare to the first victory.
"I am super happy for me and the team," Boonen said. "But when I compare this happiness with the happiness for the victory I had the first time, it isn't the same. That was really a great moment and that feeling is something that has never come back."
Boonen then moved on to discussion about Paris-Roubaix — and 205.1km Scheldeprijs, which takes place on Wednesday, April 4.
"The race of tomorrow is an important race, and I am happy to be at the start," Boonen said. "Tomorrow I will try to work for other guys on the team. Francesco Chicchi, for example, can have his chance tomorrow in the race. For the rest of the week, starting tomorrow evening, I will start thinking about Paris-Roubaix. This year seems to be the year of the record, but Paris-Roubaix is really a difficult race, so anything can happen. We will see. There are a lot of competitors, Pozzato and Ballan. They showed they are in good condition."
Boonen will be ready to race on Sunday, despite how chaotic this week can often be for riders.
"I am still really motivated," Boonen said. "Mentally I have no problem. I want to ride a good race on Sunday. I work a lot to be competitive at this period of the season so I really want to try to do my best even on Sunday and fight for the victory. I don't know if I will make the recon or not on Friday. The parcours is still the same and I have pretty good experience with it. It will depend a little on my recovery and maybe I will take a little more rest to spend a little bit more time at home in the next days."
Photo Credit: PhotoNews
Photo Caption: (left to right) Brunhilde Verhenne of Omega Pharma, Tjorven, and Boonen