Tornado in California.
Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevere told the press that Tom Boonen will be riding the Tour of California that runs from May 16 to the 23.
“I’m glad we’re doing the Tour of California. Tom likes to do that race,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews. (Note the “we” — Pat likes a good California chardonnay and sushi because a steady diet of Belgian beer and frites is a guaranteed coronary.)
If you a cycling superstar like Boonen, it’s good to blow doors and get out of town once in a while. The constant pressure at home, the media scrutiny in Europe and the repetition of the same races each year make California almost a vacation.
“With just two ProTour teams in the Tour of Belgium, everyone is expecting him to win if he goes there, but now he can go to California, win a stage like he did a few years ago and everyone will be happy,” said Lefevere. “He’s very motivated to do the race but we have a few details to iron out first.”
By details, he means making some hard decisions about Boonen’s tourist itinerary. Even for a man with energy to burn, it’s impossible to do and see everything in the Golden State in only eight days.
“Tom really wants to hit a few wineries in Napa and Sonoma. And he can’t stop talking about Disneyland and taking the Warners Brothers tour of the back-lot,” said Lefevere. “We’ve already reserved two tickets to a live taping of Two & A Half Men.”
Quick Step management is considering several sight-seeing options: a quick fishing trip in Mount Shasta, a beach day in Malibu, an overnight along the coast in Mendocino or Monterey — Boonen is taking his well-thumbed copy of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.
“Obviously, the race comes first. He must battle with Cavendish and is highly motivated. However, there will be playtime,” said Lefevere.
Some activities have already been crossed off the list. There will be no abalone diving (too dangerous), no back packing in Yosemite (too time-consuming) and no crystal healing or past life regression therapy in Los Angeles (too weird.)
However, Boonen is bringing his wet-suit and kayak to run the class IV section of the McCloud river — schedule permitting. Perhaps he’s optimistic, but the Belgian is also packing his kite-board.
The major issue still be to resolved is whether Boonen will attempt to sneak in an afternoon visit to Fresno, the birthplace of “popping” a style of hip hop dance.
“I have talked to Tom. He’s willing to forgo the Napa wine tasting but is adamant about Fresno,” said Lefevere. “For him, it is the Graceland of hip hop dance. We are not named Quick Step without reason.”
Tom Boonen, you are gonna rock Cali and Cali will rock you back.