Patrick Lefevere: "If Boonen wants to keep his financial situation, he must also perform."
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Patrick Lefevere: "If Boonen wants to keep his financial situation, he must also perform."

by Jered Gruber at 3:51 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Tom Boonen's contract runs out at the end of 2011, contract negotiations begin

With the Ronde van Vlaanderen only four days distant and Paris-Roubaix looming just a week later, the most important part of the season is now upon Patrick Lefevere, his Quick-Step team, and most importantly, his Belgian star, Tom Boonen.

The two-time winner of Vlaanderens Mooiste, two-time winner of Gent-Wevelgem, and four-time winner of the Hell of the North will be fighting for more than just his place in the pantheon of the sport this spring - he'll also be fighting for the terms of his next contract, according to team manager, Lefevere.

For a rider like Boonen and his immense popularity, there would seem to be at least some pull to switch teams at the end of his contract, but Lefevere is confident that his star rider will remain with his team into the future.

"Two days before Milano-Sanremo, I sat down with Tom," said arguably the sport's most successful Classics manager in history on Sporza and quoted in Wieler Flits. "It was a good conversation. He's really not of the mind to change teams. Look, Tom knows himself, and he knows that his market value is partly determined by his charisma."

That's a very un-Lefevere thing to be said. If there's anything that Patrick Lefevere isn't, it's a man concerned with charisma. The only thing that matters to Mr. Lefevere are major victories, and they come in two varieties: the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

After a moment of uncharacteristic behavior, Lefevere snaps to and gets back down to business: results equal money, lack of results equals a reduction in pay. It's simple.

"It's also about results though. If he wants to keep his financial situation, he must also perform. Getting dropped on the Poggio, ninth in Waregem - no problem. I will take stock after Roubaix though. If there are others who ride better, he may have to concede something."

Therein might lie the problem. Boonen might be content to remain with Quick-Step under the current situation, but say Lefevere pushes for a reduction in salary for Boonen if (some might say when) he doesn't win either Flanders or Roubaix? Will the outstretched, welcoming arms of other teams become more appealing? What happens if Quick-Step can't amass enough World Tour points to remain at the sport's highest level? A lot depends on this crucial period - Boonen already has a major win to his credit in Gent-Wevelgem last Sunday, a victory which followed very soon after Lefevere's ultimatum, but that won't keep him warm at night. A win on April 3rd or April 10th, however, should do the trick just fine.

Of course, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves: the first thing that needs to be taken care of: two weeks of cobbles...and two weeks of Fabian Cancellara.



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