Not many people know his name. But, Tom Boonen is one of the best sprinters in cycling. He’s very big for a cyclist (6’4″ compared to Lance’s 5’9″), and he’s the best rider on the Quick Step team.
A problem with his patellar tendon will keep him out of the race this year. It’s already a lean year for the sprinters. Mark Cavendish, the best young sprinter, had a horrible dental issue that has kept him from training for weeks. Thor Hushovd (the greatest “name” in cycling, referred to as the God of Thunder) broke his collarbone a month ago. Couple that with some retirements and drug issues, and the sprint stages of the Tour look to have a decidedly different face this year.
Other than watching Lance, the 9 or 10 sprint stages are some of the best cycling television there is.