Boonen – King of the Classics
A week after he won the Tour of Flandres, Tom Boonen made it a double celebration when he won the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix, today, after a tough hard fought battle over 259 kilomètres of which 54 were cobble stones or pave.
His arch rival and co-favourite for the race, Peter Van Pettegem, was forced to abandon with 80 kilometres to go, following a crash. Van Petegem’s team rallied around their stricken leader but to no avail. Van Petegem had also won the Double in 2003, but prior to that the last man to achieve such a feat was Roger de Vlaeminck 26 years previously in 1977.
Rik van Looy in 1962, Raymond Impanis in 1954, Gaston Rebry in 1934, Romain Gijssels in 1932 and Henri Suter in 1923 are the only other men to achieve this rare Double victory.
In sunny but deceptively cold conditions the wind was the main climatic feature of the days racing. 8 men got into the early break, Sébastien Chavanel (Bouygues Telecom), Florent Brard (Agritubel), Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Stéphane Berges (Agritubel), Erwin Thijs (MrBookmaker), David Herrero (Euskaltel) and Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros). A special mention for the French Agritubel Team, who animated the chase and refused to give even after they were passed by the main contenders.
In the chasing peloton, a royal escape occurred on the pave of Haveluy, when Boonen (Quickstep) Hincapie (Discovery), Backstedt (Liquigas), Michalelsen (CSC), Flecha and Cancellara (Fassa) and Van Bon (Davitamon Lotto) broke clear. The magnificent seven swept up and passed the remnants of the early break (Barredo, S. Berges, Brard, Coyot, Thijs) on the pave sector of Mons-en-Pévèle with 30 kilometres to go. Both Van Bon and Cancellara suffered early mechanicals and the 7 leaders became 5 with Wessemann leading a forlorn chase behind having missed the break.
Flecha’s attack on the Carrefour was decisive. Photo courtesy www.cyclingfx.nl
The 5 star rated Carrefour de l'Arbre section of pave again proved to be decisive as Flecha turned up the pressure and first Michaelson (CSC) and then Backstedt slipped off the back leaving Boonen, Hincapie and Flecha 15 kilometres to sort out the podium spots.
Flecha’s attack unwittingly helped Boonen – “the two guys who really worried me for being quick in a sprint were Michaelsen and Backstedt. Lucky for me that when Flecha attacked on Carrefour de l'arbre, they were dropped. I then tried to work with Hincapie and Flecha, I was a little worried as we approached the vélodrome, because I wasn’t feeling that strong. But no one attacked in the last 5 kilometres and I thought about Ballerini and when he had lost his sprint so made sure that my final attack was strong.”
The three men seemed equally matched and once again the Velodrome would decide the winner. Boonen outwitted both Hincapie and Flecha to get the rear position as they went around the velodrome and the bell for the last lap in this epic race was sounded.
When Boonen kicked for home neither the Spaniard nor the American could kick back and Boonen took the race. However there is some record book consolation for those two riders, George Hincapie becomes the first USA rider on the podium, while Flecha becomes only the second Spaniard to achieve such a result; Miguel Poblet was second in 1958 and third in 1960.
Tom Boonen's next races
Tom Boonen not only got to take a piece of cobblestone home he also now leads the Pro Tour rankings.
However after the semi Classic of GP de l'Escaut, next week Boonen will have a break. He will not ride the Ardennes Classics but will return to racing in the Tour de Picardie (13 to 15 May).
The Quick Step rider will then compete in the Tour of Belgium (25 to 29 May) and will rejoin the Pro Tour circuit in the Tour de Suisse (11 to 19 June), he will then start the Tour de France on the 2nd July.
Indeed the young Belgian has more goals for the season –
"My first three goals of the season were the GP Harelbeke E3, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. I would now like to battle for the Green Points Jersey in the Tour de France and possibly the World Championships in Madrid."
1. Tom Boonen (BEL/Quick Step) les 259 km en 6 h 29:38. (moyenne: 39,884 km/h)
2. George Hincapie (USA) m.t. 3. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) m.t. 4. Magnus Backstedt (SUE) à 1:09. 5. Lars Michaelsen (DAN) 2:43. 6. Leon Van Bon (PBS) 3:49. 7. Florent Brard (FRA) 3:49. 8. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 3:49. 9. Thor Hushovd (NOR) 3:49. 10. Arnaud Coyot (FRA) 3:49. 11. Frédéric Guesdon (FRA) 3:49. 12. Vladimir Gusev (RUS) 3:49. 13. Erwin Thijs (BEL) 3:49. 14. Nico Mattan (BEL) 3:49. 15. Kevin Hulsmans (BEL) 3:49. 16. Steffen Wesemann (ALL) 3:49. 17. Frank Hoj (DAN) 4:48. 18. Stuart O'Grady (AUS) 4:52. 19. Pedro Horrillo (ESP) 4:52. 20. Jeremy Hunt (GBR) 4:52. 21. Marcus Ljungqvist (SUE) 4:52. 22. Jimmy Casper (FRA) 4:52. 23. Henk Vogels (AUS) 4:52. 24. Koen De Kort (PBS) 4:52. 25. Heinrich Haussler (ALL) 4:52. 26. Roy Sentjens (BEL) 4:52. 27. Nicolas Jalabert (FRA) 4:52. 28. Steven De Jongh (PBS) 4:52. 29. Roberto Petito (ITA) 4:52. 30. Enrico Franzoi (ITA) 4:52. 31. Alessandro Cortinovis (ITA) 4:52. 32. Johan Verstrepen (BEL) 4:52. 33. Leif Hoste (BEL) 4:52. 34. Wim De Wocht (BEL) 4:52. 35. Allan Johansen (DAN) 4:52. 36. Gianluca Bortolami (ITA) 4:52. 37. Bram Tankink (PBS) 4:52. 38. Bert Grabsch (ALL) 4:52. 39. Servais Knaven (PBS) 4:52. 40. Nick Nuyens (BEL) 4:52. 41. Bert Roesems (BEL) 4:52. 42. Andrea Tafi (ITA) 4:52. 43. Matthé Pronk (PBS) 5:00. 44. Serguei Ivanov (RUS) 5:00. 45. Christophe Mengin (FRA) 5:01. 46. Baden Cooke (AUS) 5:09. 47. Alessandro Ballan (ITA) 5:10. 48. Jimmy Engoulvent (FRA) 5:38. 49. Bernhard Eisel (AUT) 6:30. 50. Rolf Aldag (ALL) 8:00. 51. Stéphane Berges (FRA) 8:00. 52. Carlos Barredo (ESP) 8:00. 53. Andy Flickinger (FRA) 10:35. 54. Uros Murn (SLO) 10:36. 55. Jaan Kirsipuu (EST) 10:36. 56. Nicola Loda (ITA) 10:36. 57. Gorik Gardeyn (BEL) 10:36. 58. Matti Breschel (DAN) 10:36. 59. Luke Roberts (AUS) 10:36. 60. Christophe Laurent (FRA) 10:36. 61. Sébastien Minard (FRA) 10:36. 62. Unai Yus (ESP) 10:36. 63. Vicente Garcia Acosta (ESP) 10:36. 64. Peter Wrolich (AUT) 10:36. 65. Camille Bouquet (FRA) 10:36. 66. Angelo Furlan (ITA) 10:36. 67. Simone Cadamuro (ITA) 10:36. 68. Ludovic Auger (FRA) 10:36. 69. Salvatore Commesso (ITA) 10:36. 70. Eric Baumann (ALL) 10:41. 71. Peter Farazijn (BEL) 10:43. 72. Grégory Rast (SUI) 10:45. 73. Aart Vierhouten (PBS) 10:54. 74. Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) 13:28. 75. Marc Wauters (BEL) 14:05. 76. Erik Zabel (ALL) 14:05. 77. Matthew Wilson (AUS) 15:34. 78. Matthew Hayman (AUS) 15:34. 79. Bas Giling (PBS) 15:34. 80. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) 18:16.
191 riders started. 80 classified. 14 ouside time limit (Righetto, Burghardt, Mutsaars, Clerc, Hammond, Bodrogi, Lequatre, Koerts, Séb. Chavanel, Geslin, Van Landschoot, Agnolutto, Dion, Levecot) Non partant: Isasi