Boonen A Three-Time Winner of Paris-Roubaix
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has joined Octave Lapize, Gaston Rebry, Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, and Johan Museeuw as a three-time winner of Paris-Roubaix.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has joined Octave Lapize, Gaston Rebry, Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, and Johan Museeuw as a three-time winner of Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian surged away from five companions in the last 20 km to win the 259-km Hell of the North in 6:15:53. Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) finished second at 0:47, and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) outsprinted Leif Hoste (Silence) for third at 1:17.
After an overnight rain, 187 starters set out for Compiegne in cool but muggy conditions to meet cobbles that were probably not as slick as if they would have been without the rain. Forty-two km into the race, 11 men sallied off of the front. They were Kasper Klostergard (Saxo Bank), Angelo Furlan (Lampre), Steven Cozza (Garmin), Greg Henderson (Columbia), Maarten Wynants (Quick Step), Yoann Offredo and Wesley Sulzberger (both from Francaise des Jeux), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), 2001 Paris-Roubaix winner Servais Knaven (Milram), Steve Chainel (Bouygues Telecom), and Andreas Klier (Cervelo). The break led the bunch by three minutes at the beginning of the first section of pave at Troisville (98 km) and by four minutes at 118 km. Silence and Saxo Bank led the pursuit, and the escapees' advantage was two minutes at the entrance to the Arenberg Forest.
The Arenberg did its usual damage. A crash took down Martijn Maaskant (Garmin), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), and Sebastien Hinault (Ag2r). Hinault abandoned.
The attrition continued when the riders left the Arenberg. Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolders (Quick Step) had a mechanical problem, and George Hincapie (Columbia) punctured. With 71 km left, the break was one minute ahead of a chase group containing Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, and Devolder (all from Quick Step); Fabian Cancellara, Matti Breschel, and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (all from Saxo Bank); Hincapie; Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank); Tom Veelers (Skil); 1997 Paris-Roubaix winner Frederic Guesdon (Francaise des Jeux); and Hoste.
Saxo Bank drove the chase group, which split in two. Hincapie and Quinziato got back on just as the chasers reached sector 13 of pave (194 km). Boonen attacked, and Cancellara, Flecha, Pozzato, Quinziato, Johan Van Summeren (Silence), and Hushovd followed him. Behind this group, a race motorbike crashed and injured nine spectators.
A few riders got back on, but with 61 km remaining, Boonen attacked. His move was covered, and Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo), Klostergard, Flecha, Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step), and Quinziato attacked. Eight km later, Boonen bridged up to the break, taking Pozzato and Hushovd with him.
Boonen attacked yet again, and with 45 km left, he was in a lead group consisting of himself, Flecha, Hoste, Van Summeren, Pozzato, and Hushovd. Behind, Saxo Bank drove the chase, which was 0:25 behind the leading sextet. Hincapie's group was at 0:55. That was as close as either group got.
Boonen had broken a spoke, and with 29 km left, he stopped to change bikes and got back on. On the Carrefour de l'Arbre, the race's last hard sector of pave, Hushovd attacked. Flecha took a left-hand turn too hard and crashed, taking down Van Summeren. Hoste was forced to stop, and Pozzato narrowly avoided the mishap.
Hushovd crashed on a left-hand turn, and Boonen