Tom Boonen Sprints to Third Tour of Flanders Victory
Team Omega-Pharma-QuickStep's Tom Boonen earlier today secured his third Tour of Flanders victory when he outsprinted Farnese Vini-Selle Italia's Filippo Pozzato and former world champion Alessandro Ballan of Team BMC Racing in the final meters of the 2012 edition of the legendary classic race in Belgium.
Fabian Cancellara - one of the pre race favorites - crashed out of the race in the feed zone before the key moves of the race happened.
"He crashed and I think maybe ten minutes later we heard the news he wasn't in the race anymore," Boonen said and added "We weren't really chasing anything. For us I feel really bad for him, but we just raced and didn't worry about the other guys. I am sad for him, and wish him a fast recovery and I am sure he will come back stronger than ever for the Olympics and for the other big goals he has."
Winner of this race in 2007, Ballan scored the fifth Tour of Flanders top 10 finish of his career by narrowly avoiding a crash on the penultimate climb of the Paterberg and splitting the race on the last of three ascents of the Oude Kwaremont.
"The race was really hard and the first 100 kilometers were very fast," Ballan commented after the race finish and added "I tried to attack several times in the final kilometers, but Boonen was too strong. For me, it was a good performance."
After putting in three attacks in the final four kilometers of the race, a clearly exhausted Ballan was unable to respond when Boonen began his sprint to the line at 300 meters.
"Right now I am happy," Boonen said, but admitted the win hadn't really sunk in yet. "I've been extremely busy, but maybe in the shower I will have five minutes to breathe a little bit, and then it will come to me."
As far as the new course goes, Boonen hesitated to call the 2012 course more difficult than that of the 2011 edition of the race.
"It's different," Boonen said and added "The last few days everybody was talking about how it's much harder, I always said it's not much more difficult. It's just different. There are more hills in the final kilometers. It's a different race and I am happy I won it for the first edition of the new course. I think the next few races, some will race harder in the final, but you saw it. Everyone was tired on the Kwaremont. The first time they pushed it but not hard, the second time riders were getting dropped."