Those in the know realised for some time that a really good performer was imminent when a very young Tom Boonen finished third on the Paris-Roubaix podium in 2002.
Scarcely two and a half years later, he became top winner with 24 victories in one season. His achievements in 2004 alone were equal to other top performers' entire track record: the E3-Prijs, Ghent-Wevelgem, the Scheldeprijs and two stages in the Tour de France. So the awards soon began piling up.
The Laatste Nieuws
awarded him the Kristallen Fiets (Crystal Bike) and Het Nieuwsblad named him Flandrien of the year. The latter award was complemented by a trophy created by Fernand Vanderplancke. The artist from Oostduinkerke also created trophies for the Tour of Flanders and the Three Days of De Panne. As a three-time winner of both the Tour of Flanders and the Flandrien award, Boonen has quite a few of Vanderplancke's works stacked up on his mantelpiece.