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Quick Step Floors rider will leave a hole in the affections of Flemish fans that will be hard to fill

Belgium is gearing up to give one of its sporting heroes, Tom Boonen, a hell of a send-off as he brings down the curtain on a glittering career at Paris-Roubaix in early April – and among the more ‘out there’ tributes we’ve seen is this Flemish rap song about the Quick Step Floors rider.

We were alerted to the song – stick with it, the video gets properly ‘out there’ around 40 seconds in – by a comment on this post by in-the-know blogger The Inner Ring which looks back on Boonen’s career and just what it is that lies behind his popularity.

It’s well worth a read, as are the comments beneath, some of which which flag up musical tributes to the rider affectionately known as Tommeke.

In one of those, StevhanTi mentioned the new song about Boonen – it’s certainly not the first, as others point out – but here’s what he had to say:

The original song is quite a hit in Flanders for the moment and the lyrics were adapted at the request of ‘Studio Brussel’ a popular radio network.

The lyrics are sung in the same dialect as Boonen and the singer is (said to be) the tattoo artist who did Boonen’s ink as well.

Anyway with ‘Het Volk’ going on next weekend Boonen fever is really getting high here. It’s actually becoming ludicrous.

Boonen getting some road rash, stiff muscles but a good training after all was almost bigger news than Ben Hermans winning two stages and the overall in the season’s first race with proper mountains …

That’s a reference to BMC Racing’s Hermans clinching the overall at the Tour of Oman last week.

Aged 30, when it comes to big one-day races, the Belgian is more a rider for the hillier terrain of the Ardennes rather than the Cobbled Classics, which start on Saturday with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Belgium isn’t short of top cyclists, of course, though there’s a question mark over whether any of them can capture the hearts of Flemish fans the way Boonen has.

Greg Van Avermaet, also of BMC Racing had a standout season last year. The 31-year-old won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno-Adriatico, a Tour de France stage, the GP de Montreal and of course the Olympic road race.

Those victories have, done his profile in his home country no harm, and he could be the rider most likely to assume Boonen’s mantle.

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Sep Vanmarcke, 28, is a decent bet to take a cobbled Monument at some point. Like Van Avermaet, he already has podium finishes at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but once Boonen leaves the peloton, he is likely to have the burden of expectation on him in those races.

Former world champion Philippe Gilbert’s palmares include three Monuments, stages of all three Grand Tours, and the 2012 UCI road world championship. But at 34, the BMC Racing rider is heading into the twilight of his career and moreover comes from the French-speaking part of the country.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.