Benoot extends with Lotto – Soudal, but is he next Boonen?

Tiesj Benoot, a rider considered by some to be "the next Tom Boonen," signs for two more years with Lotto – Soudal.

Photo: TDW

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Lotto – Soudal announced Tuesday that young Belgian star Tiesj Benoot has extended his contract for two years, but will he become “the next Tom Boonen” between now and 2019?

In 2015, Benoot thrilled his country’s fans with a fifth-place finish in Tour of Flanders, at the young age of 21, in his rookie year with Lotto. So naturally, Belgians expected him to take the mantle as the new king of classics.

Following a few promising results in early 2016 — third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, seventh at E3 Harelbeke — Benoot had a setback. “I crashed in the Ronde where I wanted to set another good result. The crash was the start of a hard time for me. Now I look back on it, I realize it had a positive twist to it as well. That period taught me a lot mentally and it’s good to go through something like that at a young age,” he said.

Calling Benoot the next Boonen might be premature, and in fact, it just might be impossible. Earlier in 2016, Fred Dreier reflected on the four keys that made “Tommeke” such a legendary superstar.

These days, every talented youngster from the Low Countries earns the title “The Next Tom Boonen.” Most recently, Tiesj Benoot, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Jasper Stuyven, and Edward Theuns have all been called the heir to Tornado Tom’s gilded chamois.

I have no doubt that these youngsters possess the raw talent to become champions. But will any of them really become the next Tom Boonen?

No, of course not.


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