Good afternoon and welcome to this afternoon's race. It's a beautiful day today and we join the race with 116 kilometres to go. Today's commentary by Anita van Crey and Bart Hazen of www.cyclingfx.nl.
6 escapees have around 5 minutes on the peloton. They are David Boucher (MrBookmaker), Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux), Samuele Marzoli (Lampre-Caffitta), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros) and Paris Roubaix champion Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas)
Huge crowds greet the escapees as they tackle the Molenberg, while the peloton is T Mobile-led '.
115 km the gap still 4'30'', the peloton a mass of colour in pursuit of the escapees, Carlos Barredo was in the thick of the action in the three days of de Panne is looking strong again. As Quickstep move to the front to drive the peloton on.
Stefan Wessemann, last year's winner, has abandoned, having been poorly, but Zabel looked very strong on the Molenberg, leading the magenta hopes now.
Backstedt leads the escapees along. Samuele Marzoli (Lampre-Caffitta) has been dropped from the escapees. Who still have over 4 minutes.
96 km to go Discovery now at the front of the peloton, Hammond looking good in his British jersey, but no one really driving the peloton along. No one seem to take up the pace , Armstrong also up near the front.
95 km to Go
Thomas Voeckler attacks the peloton - and suceeds in getting a gap - still the escapees have 3'41''
Absolutely huge crowds around the course today several riders using the pavement to move up through the peloton. Ralf Grabsche launches an atttack but the gap has grown up to 4'22''.
90 km to go Grabsche is going to catch Voeckler, he is making a huge effort to join the Frenchman, who have about 7 seconds on the peloton.
89 km to go Grabsche will soon be pulled back into the peloton.
87 km to go the five leaders still working well together as the raods narrow on the Old Quaremont, Barredo looking very smooth as they tackle the climb. Backstedt looking very strong on the pave climb.
86km to go Crash in the peloton, Brochard down - Discovery leading the peloton, David Boucher (MrBookmaker) is dropped on the climb by the escapees. As Quickstep and T Mobile lead the peloton as they start the climb.
Backstedt, Zaballa, and Barredo now lead but the gap is dropping very quickly on the Old Quaremont.
84 km to go the gap under 3 minutes now.
Peter van Petegem near the front of the peloton as David boucher manages to rejoin the escapees. The Paterberg climb see Boucher dropped again. Zaballa, Backstedt and Barredo pushing hard on the cobbled climb. Backstedt and barredo almost fall but keep going.
79 km to go The peloton well strung out now as they come to the Paterberg, its all Quickstep at the front. They have caused uge damage to the peloton which is thinning.
75 km to go Quickstep have caused real damage to the peloton as the escapees face the Koppenberg - Zaballa pushing hard, Backstedt and Barredo cant hold his wheel.No more than 25 riders in the main bunch. Another group 15 seconds back Flecha, Petegem, Hincapie, Pozzato all there.
73 km to go The Koppenberg has caused real damage. 20 riders clear now and chasing hard on the three leaders.
69 km to go Backstedt, Zaballa and Barredo now have 1'31'', the peloton has regrouped, while Zabel has countered with Raast and is trying to bridge the gap.
Rast is caught on the Taaienberg, Zabel is hunted down too, but Klier seems strong. The gap to the escapees down to a minute.
65 km to go Rambo Eeckhout has retired from the race. Melchers wins the Tour of Flanders for the women. Backstedt, Zaballa and Barredo just 55'' lead.
62 km to go The Eikenberg, Backstedt powers on with Zaballa and Barredo. Fassa now leading the chase.
Petegem looking very strong, Tom Boonen on his shoulder, Klier just ahead of those two.
60 km to go Guesdon and Van Bon attack and split the chasers.
58 km to go on the Boigneberg the three leaders looking very tired now, Backstedt hits the wall - T Mobile dominate the front of the regrouped peloton. Klier is a local rider, he lives in Denderwindeke.
56 km to go Zabel attacks again! De Jongh puntures. Zabel will be brought back.
53 km to go 28 seconds the gap to the three escapees the peloton back to around 50 riders as 4 men break clear Verheijen, Dekker, Klier and Hammond attack. Burghardt in the contra-attack.
Zaballa in the lead. Backstedt and Barredo dropped. 50 km to go, Backstedt is dropped by the two Spanish rders and Zaballa also leaves Barredo behind.
Ballan in the attack. 2nd in the Three Days of de Panne, he passes Burghardt while Zaballa is now on his own at the front. Backstedt picked up by Ballan and Burghardt.
Barredo picked up too by the 3 with Ballan.
48 km to go Zaballa has 25 seconds on Backstedt, Ballan, Burghardt and Barredo - but the Swede cant hold the wheel. Ballan dropped them all. Ballan attacking. DeVolder also in the frontlines, as well as Nuyens.
Ballan will bridge the gap to Zaballa. Quickstep organises the huntdown. Ballan and Zaballa in front.
Ballan looking very classy as he catches Zaballa. Lotz and Kroon as Dutchies present in the first group as well.
They are now in the Van Petegem area, in the area Van Petegem lives. Boonen has his team make pace.
47 km to go Quickstep, Gerolsteiner leading the peloton. Bram "The Tank" Tankink has a good day as well and works his butt off. Discovery are quiet at the moment.
The bunch at 53 seconds. Now on the stones of the Haaghoek. The three being hunted down - 44 km to go and Quickstep at the front chasing down the two leaders Ballan and Zaballa.
Now on the Leberg. Backstedt's adventure comes to a close, another great ride by Barredo, the three men in the middle are caught by the peloton.
Ballan and Zaballa pushing hard on the Leberg, Quickstep and Gerolsteiner still leading the peloton. It's a nasty twisting climb that saps the legs - 4 Quickstep riders a wedge of blue at the front of the peloton.
Zabel attacks again! Once again he is brought back.
40 km to go 48 seconds to the leading two men. The peloton around 40 riders strong now, I would guess.
Now on the Berendries. Huge crowds, Ballan puts the pressure on Zaballa - he wants to be alone.
Ballan in the lead - Zaballa parkeggio. Zaballa is finally dropped - great, brave race by the Spaniard. Kroon counters out of the group. Armstrong still in the bunch...It's Armstrong leading the chase down of Kroon! Discovery now show their hand.
Ekimov and Armstrong at the front of the peloton. Canada crashes on a corner - but he's okay. The peloton regroups after the climb.
Stijn Devolder, contrary to what he usually does, did not do that much work so far. He was told beforehand to wait until the all so famous Muur van Geraardsbergen. Kroon still trying to bridge the gap to Ballan and the tiring Zaballa.
35 km to go Ballan looks a class act as he powers on. Kroon is pulled back in. Zabel the next to react - as well as Petito. T-Mobile and Discovery at the head of the peloton - they think it's Tour de France, not Flanders.
Good old Roberto (Petito) did do well in the Three Days of de Panne and now also in Flanders.
34 km to go Ballan now has a minute - the peloton better get organised or they might be chasing for second. Zabel and Petito pass Zaballa. Valkenberg - Ballan pushes on.
Klier attacks, Boonen reacts. Van Petegem with them, Dekker also tries to react, but no. Now Boonen takes his turn at the front. The alarm bells will be ringing in the peloton. Ivanov of Tea-Mobile present in the front lines as well.
Leif Hoste counters. There are no Discos in this break, so they are bound to react.
29 km to go They now are in Brakel, hometown of Van Petegem. 6 leaders, Ballan is caught. 6 leaders in the front, 2 Italians there.
Armstrong leads the chase. Boonen this way wipes out all the question marks and replaces them with a big !!! riding THE race of races in his homeland. 23 sec. the gap, Armstrong putting in a huge effort. Now on the Tenbosse, 8,7%, the steepest part of this climb.
Klier attacks, Armstrong has to let go. Hincapie bridges to the front group. Ivanov attacks with 2 riders in front.
Ekimov and Hincapie leading the chase to the 6 leaders. The gap grown to 20 seconds. 24 km to go. 27 seconds the gap.
The 6 leaders are working well together. Boonen tucked behind Zabel. Zabel, van Petegem, Boonen, Ballan, Petito, and Klier. The five others will think again to take Tom T-Bone Boonen to the finish line with them...Hincapie in front of the bunch.
22 km to go - 36 seconds the gap The Hincapie group is brought back by the peloton.
van Petegem and Boonen - the duel! The two race favourites are living up to the pre-race billing. The gap is growing, 21 km to go and 42 seconds. Dekker back in the front lines, though he earlier had to give it a miss...so that makes him a little less favorite. The Muur approaches! Disco leads the peloton, van Petegem will try to lose Boonen on the wall.
T-Mobile are riding well now - they are slowing the peloton down, making it hard to organise the chase. Bert Dewaele reacts, Lotz the next to react. Van Bon and DeVolder the next to react.
20 km to go 46 seconds the gap. Boonen leads, Zabel takes over. 49 seconds now. They have to do a u-turn there, since the old bridge is inaccessible due to road works.
van Petegem leads the escapees. Now Boonen takes over. They start the climb - it's steep.
Boonen forces the pace - 17 km, with 57 sec. at the beginning of the Muur.
Van Petegem putting everyone under pressure. van Petegem accelerates, Boonen hangs on.
Klier still there, 15 km to go. Behind Hincapie is there, as is Flecha. Petito and Zabel dropped. Petito is back, Zabel back as well. Ete Zabel is more like ET Zabel - an extraordinary ride today.
14km to go 6 leaders, 55 seconds the gap.
Ballan, Petito, Klier, Zabel, Boonen and van Petegem... Boonen powering the 6 men on - now the T-Mobiles take up the pace. 13km - 58 seconds the gap.
Ballan, KOM in the 3 Days De Panne, is having another huge race today. Last climb of the day - 1350 meter 11% max gradient. Klier attacks. Van Petegem and Boonen react.
Klier does not look over his shoulder, sets his gear again and keeps on going. Boonen looks good. Petegem, Klier, Ballan and Boonen now together. Again 6 leaders.
12 km to go The gap 50 seconds.
Now the 6 must be careful or they will be caught. 10 to go. 246 km after the start in Brugge, the city was packed with like 35.000 spectators. 9 km to go, 54 seconds.
van Petegem attacks. Boonen reacts and counters. Klier tries to bridge. Boonen head down, not looking back. van Petegem gives chase. Petito had to take over the pace Klier had set, but failed.
Boonen on his way to the win, face of pain pounding down the road. Boonen is making a huge effort with 7 km to go!
The T-Mobile boys lead the chase. 6 km to go, 9 seconds.
Boonen has talen over Museeuw's role perfectly - the Cub of Flanders may become a lion today. 5 km to go. Klier parkeggio...
van Petegem tries to counter, but he is closed down by his escapees. 4 km - 10 seconds the gap for Boonen. Boonen could be the new lion of Flanders.
Boonen is out of the saddle it's a huge effort - the gap 11 seconds. Petito attacks. 3 km to go, 12 seconds.
Boonen - his face a Muur of pain, he powers on, he is riding into the history books.
The chasers do not work that well together that they are able to come any nearer to Boonen. Petito is brought back. 2km to go, Boonen is cheered by the huge crowds. Boonen is dancing over the cobbles.
The crowd is going wild - Boonen still does not look back. 500 metres. He sits up. The roars of the crowd as arms outstretched - Boonen wins!
Boonen, absolutely overjoyed: "I didn't fancy being with Zabel in a sprint so I attacked from a long way out, but I thought I would be brought back, but I wasn't..."
A great race by Boonen, won in true style, a marvellous day's racing.
3 van Petegem
8 Van Bon
Petacchi remains ProTour leader, Freire in second, Hondo probably in third.
Thanks very much for joining us today for the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Next Sunday of course is Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, so be sure to join us again then.
1. Boonen Tom 6:22:00 (40.208 Km/h)
2. Klier Andreas 0.35
3. Van Petegem Peter 0.40
4. Zabel Erik
5. Petito Roberto
6. Ballan Alessandro
7. Hincapie George 1.42
8. Van Bon Leon
9. Ivanov Serguei
10. Gusev Vladimir
11. Kroon Karsten
12. Flecha Giannoni Juan Antonio
13. Eisel Bernhard 2.04
14. Baldato Fabio
15. Johansen Allan
16. O'Grady Stuart
17. Mattan Nico
18. Celestino Mirko
19. De Waele Bert
20. Ljungqvist Marcus
21. Nuyens Nick
22. Guesdon Frédéric
23. Hoste Leif
24. Dekker Erik
25. Grabsch Bert
26. Lotz Marc
27. Aldag Rolf
28. Armstrong Lance
29. Hoj Frank 3.25
30. Zaballa Gutierrez Constantino
31. Hushovd Thor
32. Zberg Marcus 4.32
33. Scheirlinckx Staf
34. Elmiger Martin
35. Devolder Stijn
36. Murn Uros 6.25
37. Michaelsen Lars
38. Cretskens Wilfried
39. Vierhouten Aart
40. Geslin Anthony
41. Barredo Llamazales Carlos
42. Landaluze Intxaurraga Inigo
43. Pozzato Filippo
44. Lang Sebastian
45. Verheyen Geert
46. De Jongh Steven
47. Hayman Mathew
48. Tankink Bram
49. Detilloux Christophe
50. Bortolami Gianluca
51. Canada Gracia David
52. Hammond Roger
53. Bennati Daniele
54. Roberts Luke
55. Wauters Marc
56. Ekimov Viatcheslav
57. Vaitkus Tomas 6.40
58. Wrolich Peter 7.40
59. Renier Franck 9.52
60. Pena Iza Aketza
61. Backstedt Magnus 10.21
62. Cancellara Fabian
63. Schreck Stephan
64. Hulsmans Kevin
65. Burghardt Marcus
66. Usov Alexandre 10.26
67. Coenen Johan 11.40
68. Trouve Kristof
69. Tafi Andrea
70. Rast Grégory 13.19
71. Brochard Laurent
72. Grabsch Ralf
73. Lorenzetto Mirco
74. Kirsipuu Jaan
75. Nuritdinov Rafael
76. Clerc Aurélien
77. Bodrogi Laszlo
78. Aug Andrus
79. Jurco Matej
80. Gerosa Mauro
81. Wiggins Bradley
82. Gutierrez Cataluna Ignacio
83. Den Bakker Maarten
84. Quinziato Manuel
85. Thijs Erwin
86. Bak Lars Ytting
87. Casper Jimmy
88. Ghyllebert Pieter
89. Haussler Heinrich
90. Boucher David
91. Mengin Christophe
92. Gerrans Simon
93. De Vocht Wim
94. Sironi Gianluca
95. Pronk Matthé
96. Pütsep Erki
97. Verstrepen Johan
98. Boven Jan
99. Van Der Linden Wesley
100. Van Impe Kevin