Tom Boonen Powers to Victory in Paris-Roubaix 2012
Belgian rider Tom Boonen won the Paris-Roubaix race for a record-tying fourth time, successfully breaking away from the pack about 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the end of Sunday's one-day classic.
Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Tom Boonen (Belgium) earlier today won the Paris-Roubaix race for a record-tying fourth time, successfully breaking away from the pack about 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the end of Sunday's one-day classic.
In a rather boring edition of the famous race, the 2005 world champion crossed the finish line alone, before five chasing riders had even reached the velodrome in the northern French town of Roubaix.
Boonen shook four fingers over his head as he crossed the line in front of a cheering crowd, in celebration of his equaling the record four victories in cycling's toughest one-day race set by his countryman Roger de Vlaeminck in the 1970s.
"When I was all alone in front, I just went for it. It's my greatest (Paris-Roubaix) win. Claiming the fourth in such a way is just great," Boonen said after being celebrated on the podium in the middle of the Roubaix Velodrome.
"I was just fighting myself. I was taking it step by step, cobblestone by cobblestone, kilometer by kilometer. I think if you start thinking about the 60 or 57 kilometers, which is when I left, it's nearly impossible. It is all in your mind. I was really thinking about my lead. With the gap at 30 seconds I was trying to take it second by second. I was trying not to push it right away to one minute, tried not to force myself. It was the best way to save my strength and put all my strength into the 50 kilometers in front of me."
Boonen's victory was emphatic. He crossed the finish line 1 minute, 39 seconds ahead of Frenchman Sebastien Turgot of Team Europcar and Team BMC Racing's Italian Alessandro Ballan, who were second and third, respectively.
"I'm not fast in the sprint and I don't have the history in the velodrome, so it was hard for me," Ballan told Roadcycling.com after the finish. "Tom was just too strong. I didn't think it was possible for him to finish alone because we had four or five riders from Sky and two from Rabobank in my group."
Tom Boonen also won the race, known as the Queen of the Classics, in 2005, '08 and '09, while de Vlaeminck's wins came in 1972, '74, '75 and '77. Additionally, Boonen is now the only rider in men's road racing history to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Paris-Roubaix race in the same season twice.
Commenting on his record-matching and breaking performance, Boonen told Roadcycling.com "When I look back on these two or three weeks, it's been amazing. It's my second double and I realize now I am the only one who did this 'double' two times. I realize now I am maybe be the best guy to ever ride on these cobblestones, on these roads. It's special, but think I need some time. My career isnt over yet."
After crashing once and receiving a new rear wheel from teammate Wyss with 85 kilometer to go, Paris-Roubaix veteran George Hincapie reached the finish line in 43rd place, 07:46 behind Boonen. In doing so, the BMC Racing Team rider bettered the record for Paris-Roubaix finishes with 17. "I came out relatively unscathed," the three-time U.S. national road champion said and added "This is such a hard race. From the guys who are getting first, to the guys who are getting last, everyone puts everything they have into it. You're completely exhausted, but it's what people dream about - coming into the velodrome. It's definitely a special feeling."
An intensive crash occurred in the Arenberg Forrest about halfway through the race, with Frederic Guesdon, riding in his record-equaling 17th Paris-Roubaix and the last Frenchman to win in 1997, caught up in it. He did get back in the saddle but lost his momentum.