Will classic superstar Tom Boonen leave the cobblestones behind for a performance on a different stage?
Cycling journalists and fans worldwide have noticed a “new look” from Boonen this season. His head is shaved close to the skull and his ears seems more pointed and devious.
Now, according to a source at the Belgian Theater institute, comes word that Boonen may be auditioning for the role of Nosferatu in a new stage production.
While initially surprising, the role has a certain dramatic logic. “Playing a vampire is a perfect extension, a compliment to the Cannibal role created by fellow Belgian Eddy Merckx,” said theater critic Serge Laflamme. “They are both killers — one eats his victims will the other sucks their blood. Thematically, Boonen is using a new medium to communicate his power over his cycling rivals.”
While Boonen has no previous experience as an actor except playing himself in several TV commercials for his bike sponsor Specialized, friends say he’s not afraid off taking on a more demanding role as the Nosferatu, the vampire in the 1922 German Expressionist film.
“Tom is a natural performer and also very comfortable with an audience,” says former QuickStep soigneur Jos Peeters. “And let us not overestimate the requirements for playing a vampire. You bite people on the neck while they’re sleeping. There’s not a lot of dialogue.”
Still, the four time winner of Paris-Roubaix is apparently taking no chances, studying with an acting coach in-between training,racing and changing diapers on his two baby girls. Even team manager Patrick Lefevere was quick to lend his support. “I did not like Cavendish racing on the track but Tom playing a vampire is not a big deal. I am for whatever puts fear into his rivals,” said Lefevere.
With only a few rehearsals under his belt, Boonen already looks the part of Nosferatu. “You can see him become the vampire, see him embrace the role and feel it in his body,” says LaFlamme. “I think people will see another side of Boonen, one that is even more terrifying than the Cannibal in his prime.”
Reached for comment, his longtime nemesis Fabian Cancellara refused to admit that Boonen’s Nosferatu will make him the favorite to win in Flanders or Roubaix. “It is always the strongest rider who wins,” said Spartacus. “Not the one who bites people’s necks. The legs decide, not the sharp teeth.”
It remains to be seen how well Boonen will perform this season but now we has three dates with destiny: The Tour of Flanders on April 5th, Paris-Roubaix on April 12 and the first performance of Nosferatu in Bruges on April 19th.