Boonen and Friends Charity Event – a huge success
The sixth edition of the annual fund-raising race – which took place on Saturday, in the Belgian city of Mol – raised once again awareness on the work of the Move To Improve and Bijs charities.
Great weather, an enthusiast crowd and some of the best riders in the world. These were the main ingredients of the Boonen and Friends Cyclo-Cross, which was run on a 2-km long circuit in the Park of Zilvermeer. Although he couldn't participate as he is still recovering from an injury suffered in the Abu Dhabi Tour, Tom Boonen came at the race to meet his fans and support the cause of the event, whose main purpose is to help children and make their lives better.
At the end of the race won by his fellow countryman Sean De Bie, Boonen was all smiles and labeled the day as a huge success: "I think it's the best edition we had so far. The crew is getting more experienced and everything is well organized. We had a nice course, strong riders, good weather and a great crowd. We collected money from the people who came here and we hope to raise even more at the auction which will take place tonight. For my part, I'll come with a bike and some jerseys, as well as an artwork."
Last time he raced the Boonen and Friends Cyclo-Cross, Zdenek Štybar was given a one-minute handicap, but that didn't stop him from winning. Now, the three-time cyclo-cross World Champion started 30 seconds after the main pack, but couldn't repeat the feat of 2013: "The parcours was much easier than last time and there were also more riders in the peloton. On top of that, we had iron plates over the descents, so my advantage was basically gone. It was very difficult for me to close the gap, but the fact I didn't win is less important. The main thing is the event turned out to be great and the charity is the real winner of the day."
2014 World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski was among the riders who rode the race and had only words of praise at the end: "It's difficult to describe how I feel, although it wasn't the first time I came here. I'd say it was tougher than two years ago. When Štybar is passing you, is like you're on a roller coaster. I'm really happy to be here for charity, for the kids, and I'm glad so many pros made time to ride the cyclo-cross. Also, we must thank to the Belgian public, who is always special."
His feelings were echoed by new Etixx – Quick-Step cyclist Marcel Kittel: "It was the third cyclo-cross race I did in my life and the second one with a cyclo-cross bike, and it was really nice. It was fun for us riders and the fans, and I really enjoyed it. We had many riders, many spectators and we managed to reach our goal, which was to raise public awareness on those who are in need."