Boonen Takes Second Straight Tour of Flanders
For the second consecutive year, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has won the Tour of Flanders. The world champion bested Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel) in a two-up sprint to take the rugged, 259-km race in 6:24:26. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) won the sprint for third at 1:17.
The race began in windy, rainy conditions. Hostilities did not commence for some time. At
Boonen led the charge up the Molenberg. Attrition took its toll, and Boucher and Reinerink were dropped, while the leading quartet?s lead dipped below 4:00. Discovery Channel and Gerolsteiner began to drive the pursuit.
The pursuit slowed, and the break extended its lead to 4:45. The chase renewed, however. Up front, Auger and Albasini were dropped on the Kwaremont. Quick Step began to drive the chase, and riders were shelled. The Belgian squad took Boonen to the Koppenberg (
Boonen attacked and was joined by a chase group that consisted of his teammate Paolo Bettini, Andreas Klier (T-Mobile), Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon), Fabian Cancellara and Karsten Kroon (both from CSC), Hincapie and Hoste (both from Discovery), Roberto Petito (Tenax), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval), and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank). Eventually, Boonen?s teammates Filippo Pozzato and Serge Baguet joined the group along with Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), and Erik Zabel (Milram). This group overtook Schmitz and Albasini at
Pozzato and Baguet drove the group, and riders were shelled. At
Boonen did most of the work. At the one-km banner, he tried to persuade Hoste to take a turn. Hoste refused, and Boonen threatened to stop. Hoste stayed behind the world champion and jumped him with
The race revolved around Hoste?s move. Some displeasure was expressed about motorbikes obstructing the pursuers. Kroon said, ?When Boonen opened up right after the climb, there were strong headwinds, and it seemed like they had an advantage because of the motorbikes in front of them.? Cancellara added, ?I think the motorbikes gave the riders at the front an advantage, which influenced the race in a way it shouldn?t have. I believe Karsten would have made it [across to Hoste and Boonen] otherwise.?
On Wednesday, many of the riders in the Tour of Flanders will contest Gent-Wevelgem. Who will prevail? Check in at Roadcycling.com and find out!