Tom: I'm stronger than last year

World champion Tom Boonen may be one of the most in-demand athletes in world sport, but he's still f

World champion Tom Boonen may be one of the most in-demand athletes in world sport, but he's still f

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

The accolades continue to fall to Tom Boonen, who on Sunday evening was voted male sports personality of the year, with the women's award going to tennis star Kim Clijsters. But if the Belgian's rivals are hoping that the Quick Step sprinter's numerous off-season diversions might have taken his eye off the sport's major prizes, they had better think again.

Boonen has told La Dernire Heure that he is already undertaking 140km training rides, often simply to get away from the demands that are being made on him. "I have received 250 requests for interviews or TV and radio appearances, and that's just in Belgium," he revealed. "Journalists from about 20 countries also want to meet me. To find some peace I have often had to get my bike out and just go riding. Only then can I get away from things."

But getting away from things seems to be working in his favour. "Last week I did some tests in Italy and they show that I am stronger than I was at the same time last year," he admitted.

His aim for the first part of the season will be to take that strength and apply it at Milan-San Remo, although he said he does not mind which Classic he might win this season, as long as he wins one. "It is going to be a unique situation racing in the world champion's jersey. It has been said that I have achieved all of my objectives, but that's not true because I missed out on San Remo last year and I had to give up on the Tour's green jersey because of my crashes. If I could win those two prizes in 2006 the season would be a good one."

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