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BRUSSELS (AFP) — Tom Boonen has declined to take part in this summer’s 100th Tour de France, he told the Belga news agency on Tuesday.
The former green jersey of the Tour, 32, said that he may never ride another edition of the race.
“Will I take part in another Tour? The chance is very low,” Boonen said, according to Belga. “Maybe I will never return.”
Boonen has participated in six editions of the Tour (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011), but has had mix fortunes in the race. Boonen has six career stage wins and won the maillot vert in 2007. He abandoned due to crashes in 2005, withdrew on the Col du Lautaret in 2006, exited because of illness in 2009, and left the race following a head injury in 2011. Boonen missed the 2008 Tour due to a positive control for cocaine, the 2010 Tour with knee tendonitis. and the 2012 Tour in order to prepare for the Olympic Games.
Omega Pharma boss Patrick Lefevere said that he “did not want to force (a) rider” to take part in the race.
“I do not want to force it. A rider who fears a three-week race, do not force him to change his mind,” said Lefevere. “I would have preferred to see him starting in Corsica. For advertising, it would have been a serious bonus. It will be otherwise.”
Instead of the Tour, Boonen will race the Tour de Wallonie (July 20-24) and the Tour of Poland (July 27-August 3).
Mark Cavendish had hoped that Boonen would start the Tour and help him to stage wins in the bunch finishes.
“Would I have been the perfect teammate for Mark?” said Boonen. “I think it would be crazy to undermine the current train that works well in the Giro.”