Some of cycling’s biggest stars including current world champion Peter Sagan and several other riders to have worn the rainbow jersey were in Belgium on Saturday to help the now retired rider take the final bow of his career in front of 20,000 fans.
The event – called ‘Tom Says Thanks’ – was held in Boonen’s home town of Mol saw Boonen race against current riders including Philippe Gilbert, Filippo Pozzato and Marcel Kittel, as well as Sagan,
That stellar quintet contested the win at the end of the race. Boonen – of course – took the victory, at the end of the hour-long race, with Sagan second and Kittel third.
Boonen now intends among other things to pursue a career as a racing driver and was presented after the race with a personalised helmet by his Quick Step team mates.
After what was his final race in the team’s colours, he said: "It was awkward today in the final kilometres, when I became aware that one important chapter of my career is coming to an end.
“I was relaxed and tried to enjoy every moment as much as possible, in front of this fantastic crowd. I want to thank the fans and all the riders who came today, together they made this day really special."
Boonen’s final race was preceded by one between past riders including several who, like Boonen, have worn the rainbow jersey of road world champion such as Oscar Freire and Alessandro Ballan.
That race was – again, perhaps unsurprisingly – won by another hero of the Flemish fans, Johan Museeuw.
As you can see from the video above, the after party got started in good spirits.
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.