“Never say never,” was Tom Boonen’s response when asked if he could return to competitive cycling. The 42-year-old Belgian has revealed in an interview with Sporza(opens in new tab) at the Velofollies cycling show that he has considered directing, coaching and even gravel racing in the future.
“I’m even considering looking for some competition on the bike again. I’m still a bit hesitant, but it’s starting to [itch] again,” Boonen said in the interview while at the expo to promote the Classified wireless shifting system.
Among his racing considerations are mountain bike marathons and gravel racing
“I think of something like the Roc du Maroc or some gravel races,” he said.
Asked if he could take on the likes of top-level athletes, such as Mathieu van der Poel at the World Championships, Boonen said: “Who knows. In any case, it is becoming very big and has a lot of potentials. I get it because it goes back to the essence of cycling: nature, freedom…”
Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France) soloed to victories to claim the first elite men’s and women’s world titles in the UCI Gravel World Championships last October.
Boonen retired from professional road racing in 2017 after a 17-year career that included winning the road race world title, four times Paris-Roubaix, three times Tour of Flanders, and six stages at the Tour de France.
Although he has enjoyed new challenges and success in motorsports, he doesn’t count out the idea of returning to professional cycling as a director or a national coach, even after a brief partnership with then-Lotto-Soudal and his role as adviser and ambassador for the team’s Captains of Cycling programme.
“Will I ever become a team leader or national coach? Never say never. When I first retired, I had the chance to do something like that at QuickStep, but in the end, I said I wanted to do something different, take a breather after all that attention,” Boonen said.
“But it’s not that I don’t have that ambition. I’m still young.”
In celebration of his career in professional cycling, Boonen was honoured this week with a monument which depicts two legs – bronze casts of Boonen’s legs that took six hours to create.
“It was no laughing matter. I had to stand – leg by leg – for three hours on one and three hours on the other. Afterwards, my legs were painted with a kind of latex, and finally, they were also put in plaster.”
The artwork is located on top of the Taaienberg, also known as the Boonenberg, in Maarkedal, a climb featured in the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a favourite launchpad for Boonen attacks.
“Of course, I have a huge bond with the Taaienberg; gradually, during my career, they even called it the Boonenberg. I am, of course, very honoured and happy to have been part of the process of creating this piece of art,” Boonen said.
“I even banged my fist on the table from time to time. It’s not a statue, I definitely didn’t want that. So I am very happy that I have been immortalized in this place.”

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