Tom Boonen had a tough 2008 season. He was dogged throughout the summer regarding his positive out of competition test for cocaine, and had to wait until the beginning of February 2009 to hear that he had officially been cleared of criminal charges stemming from the incident. Yet despite these troubles, "Tommeke" still had 15 wins on the season, including his 2nd Paris-Roubaix Crown, as well as 2 stages at the Vuelta a Espana. All said, despite the stress, 2008 was a good season for Belgian icon. Yet the allegations still hung in the air for that 2008 season, and Boonen wasn't his normal, upbeat self throughout that time.
Boonen has been having fun at the AToC, despite not having a win thus far in the early season stage race
Over the first two months of 2009 though, Boonen has found his fun side again at the Tours of Qatar and California. He won the overall title and a stage in Qatar in early February as well as a stage, while at California he has managed two 2nd place results. And while he hasn't been able to win in California thus far, he has nevertheless been upbeat and positive throughout. He even managed to paint the bad weather from the early stages in a positive light, saying that the wet, cold, tough conditions would prepare him for his beloved spring classics in a few weeks time.
Now that he is finally free from the 2008 affair, Boonen seems to be improving by the day. More importantly though, Tom Boonen had found his love for he sport of cycling again. He is smiling more, and also finding perspective as an athlete. They say you can't win em' all, but for many athletes this is a tough theory to address, much less accept. Tom Boonen though, from years of experience, is beginning to mature not only as a rider, but as an adult. He is realizing what is truly important: Giving your best effort on a given day. And while he hasn't managed a win yet at the Amgen Tour of California, it is hard to imagine that a slew of wins are that far off. If not in California over the next two days, then in Belgium in March and April.