Tom Boonen Takes Third Gent-Wevelgem Victory
Tom Boonen made a legendary addition to his palmarès earlier today by winning the Gent-Wevelgem 2012.
Boonen made a legendary addition to his palmarès earlier today by winning the Gent-Wevelgem 2012.
After a leg wrecking team effort by Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team to get themselves to the front of the race, then placing Boonen in perfect position for a sprint victory, he took off up the middle of the road in the final meters and tossed his bike across the finish line to win his third Gent-Wevelgem ahead of Peter Sagan of Team Liquigas-Cannondale and Denmark's Matti Breschel of Team Rabobank.
Only Eddy Merckx, Mario Cipollini, Robert Van Eenaeme, and Rik Van Looy have won Gent-Wevelgem three times.
"This morning at the race briefing we decided not to take risks because of next week's Ronde van Vlaanderen. If we survived the last trip up the Kemmelberg, we would try to do the sprint." Boonen said of the 2100 meter, 4.9 percent average gradient climb with a max incline of a whooping 21 percent.
"It's the key point of the race, about 35 kilometers from the finish. We passed with four or five riders today, so that was really a good sign. I came from the second row. It was a bit close on the left hand side, but I made the right decision because, with the headwind, I tried to stay covered until the very last moment. Then, when I saw the possibility, I decided it was time to do the sprint. I'm in good shape. I already showed my condition on Friday and I am satisfied."
Gert Steegmans, Gerald Ciolek and Dries Devenyns did hard work to ensure Boonen was in the key move of the race. Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) and Sagan went up the road to try and catch the remaining riders of an original nine man breakaway with less than 33 kilometer to go of the 235 kilometer race.
Two of those riders, Jon Izaguirre (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Anders Lund (Team Saxo Bank), attacked the group earlier and had less than 2 minutes of a gap when Cancellara and Sagan made their move. Steegmans initially tried to bridge on his own, but then returned to a chase group that included Boonen, Ciolek and Devenyns. The Steegmans-Ciolek-Devenyns trio then led the charge. The remnants of the original breakaway were eventually caught with a little less than 28 kilometer to go.
Meanwhile, a group of several sprinters fell off the back of the chase group. Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) slowly saw their race contention slip away as the Boonen chase group caught the Cancellara and Sagan group with 26 kilometer remaining. That left only Lund and Izaguirre dangling up the road, with a one minute gap.
Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep worked at the front to chip away at the gap, encouraging other teams to assist in the case. By that time 17 kilometer remained, the Cancellara and Boonen-merged group caught the duo and Omega Pharma-QuickStep Cycling Team dictated the race from there, according to a team spokesman.
"The team once again was super strong," Boonen said after being celebrated on the podium in