A Paris-Roubaix Analysis
Tom Boonen's hot streak continued for another week and I can see why.
surges and didn't counter attack. It was reported that he felt confident that he could beat Boonen in the sprint. He almost did beat Tommeke, but like the expression goes, "almost" counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades.
With Cancellara out with an injury Tornado Tom was a favorite for the upcoming Paris-Roubaix. However, there was Wednesday's Scheldeprijs race - considered a tune-up for the Queen of the Classics. While other competitors were looking to impress, Boonen was wearing full leg warmers and long sleeve jersey - an "old school" indication that Scheldeprijs was nothing more than a chance to keep the legs spinning for Flanders. The serious contenders were, at most, just wearing arm warmers.
What really stood out during Scheldeprijs was how Boonen would go to the front of the peloton and drive it hard like he was doing intervals. After a minute or two, he would rotate off the front and back into the peloton. Yeah, that was impressive.
In the end Boonen finished Scheldeprijs in 130th place, four minutes behind the winner Marcel Kittel (Team Argos-Shimano), but it was another indication of how strong he was riding.
By Sunday Paris-Roubaix had been whipped up into Boonen mania. Everyone's strong favorite was the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider. Sure there were outside picks like the other two from Flanders: Ballan and Pozzato. Team BMC's other main threat, Thor Hushovd was not considered to be a factor in Roubaix. And of course we can't forget the defending Roubaix champion Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda). He'd had a decent season so far and there was no reason not to put him on the short list of potential winners. But looking at Boonen's 2012 season you had to say he was by far the favorite.
The part I love is the pre-race press conferences. Each favorite brushing off the claim of "favorite" and deflecting to their rival. I wish the riders were like boxers and talked mad smack.
For a race like Roubaix a significant portion of the race boils down to luck, which means no punctures (which hampered George Hincapie's chances this year) or crashes (which forced Pozzato to retire with 20 kilometers remaining).
With his position alternating from his hands in the drops to resting his forearms on the top of the bars in a faux-aerodynamic position Boonen, kilometer after kilometer, further distanced his rivals. It was impressive the power he had. After about ten kilometers it was game over and everyone was now racing for second place. For the viewer it wasn't exactly riveting racing, but the battles for the other podium positions were interesting with Ballan, Lars Boom and Juan Antonio Flecha attacking. However, the real kick to the junk was when Terpstra and Turgot caught back the three escapees on the last lap of the velodrome. Flecha must have thrown-up a bit in his mouth to see his chance for a podium disappear with their arrival.
Not to pat myself too hard on the back, but I actually predicted Boonen's solo win days before in an interview I had with Levi