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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 9, 2012

Date published:
April 09, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Boonen: Fourth Paris-Roubaix win makes me one of the greats

    Tom Boonen has equalled the record of Roger De Vlaeminck with his fourth Paris-Roubaix victory today.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2012, 18:41 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian rider reflects on jaw-dropping victory in the Hell of the North

    Thirty-five years after Roger De Vlaeminck, on Easter Sunday 2012 the long-standing record of four wins in Paris-Roubaix was equalled by his compatriot Tom Boonen. It appeared that Boonen wanted to prove that he’s able of doing much more than just following his opponents and he drew level with De Vlaeminck by completing a solo of more than 50 kilometres to the vélodrome in Roubaix. The 31-year-old Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider also became the first man to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double in the same season twice.

    “Today was one of my best days in my career,” Boonen said. “I wasn’t really thinking about these records and victories. After winning Harelbeke I knew I would be good in Flanders and Roubaix.

    “When I won Flanders I realized that I also needed a little bit of luck in Roubaix. If I look on these past two or three weeks it’s been amazing. It’s my second double. Now I’m the only guy that ever did this double two times. I realize now that I’ll probably be one of the best, maybe the best, guy on the cobblestones that ever rode on these roads.

    “It’s very special but it’s not over yet. I still have a few good years to come. In the last few years I’m just finding more love for the bike. This is what I love: riding the hardest one-day races. Paris-Roubaix is a bit mythical. For me it’s getting easier [to be motivated] by getting older. The moment that I don’t like to train it’s time to stop.”

    Change of tactics

    Coming into the 2012 edition of Paris-Roubaix, Boonen was the overwhelming favourite. The Belgian rider captured the win at every northern classic in...

  • Ballan has no regrets at Paris-Roubaix

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) finished in third place
    Article published:
    April 08, 2012, 20:04 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Pozzato looked for help when Boonen attacked

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) insisted that he had few regrets after finishing third in a Monument for the second Sunday in succession as Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) soloed to a comprehensive victory at Paris-Roubaix.

    Boonen's record-equalling win ultimately descended into something of a protracted procession over the pavé, but as is so often the case at the business end of the Classics, his triumph had its genesis in a split-second of indecision in the leading group. Shortly after rattling across the cobbles at Orchies, Boonen and his teammate Niki Terpstra opened a small gap at the head of the race, and behind Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Ballan failed to agree on whose responsibility it was to chase.

    Pozzato had already looked assured in following Boonen when he had initially begun his forcing on the pavé, but he turned and looked for help when Boonen jumped a second time in the company of Terpstra. Ballan, just back with the leaders after a frantic lone chase, shook his head and with that Boonen was gone, not to be seen until he was home, hosed and mounting the podium in the centre of the famous old velodrome in Roubaix.

    "When Boonen attacked, I had already had to work a lot to get back up to him and Pozzato. When I got up there, Pippo asked me to do a turn, but I was really dead and in any case we had Hushovd behind," Ballan said afterwards.

    With so much at stake in modern cycling, teams are rarely inclined to allow their leaders to make their own decisions, not...

  • Turgot emerges as a future Paris-Roubaix contender

    In a photo finish, Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) pipped Alessandro Ballan (BMC) for second place.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2012, 20:50 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Runner-up provides new hope for France on day Guesdon retired

    On Easter Sunday Fréderic Guesdon (FDJ-Big Mat) rode his final Paris-Roubaix and he'll remain the last French winner of Paris-Roubaix (1997) for at least another year. Despite France's extended interim without a winner at the Hell of the North there was hope for the future as a promising rider stepped forward to follow his footsteps: Sébastien Turgot (Europcar).

    Turgot won the sprint for second place at Paris-Roubaix – by a millimeter – ahead of Alessandro Ballan (BMC) and three other pavé specialists. "I did some track and that certainly helped me in the sprint," Turgot said.

    In 2008 he was a French champion on the track in the team pursuit and the Madison. In 2010 he always had a go in the bunch sprints at the Tour de France and he placed sixth on three occasions. In the same year he beat Belgian star Philippe Gilbert in the sprint after a rainy second stage in the Three Days of De Panne - Koksijde. "Last year was a terrible season but this year I trained well with my trainer who gives me a lot of confidence. I arrived at these races without any problems and with great sensations."

    Nevertheless, prior to Paris-Roubaix Turgot wasn't mentioned amongst the likes of Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick Step), Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan) and Guesdon as the French riders with a chance for victory. "That's true but you always start with some ambition," said Turgot. "There's the dream of winning but you realize that it would be hard with men like Boonen, Ballan, Flecha.

    "It's my third Roubaix. Last year wasn't good. I was in...

  • Pozzato crashes out of Paris-Roubaix

    Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) crashed in the Bersée cobble sector.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2012, 21:50 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian knocked out of rematch with Boonen

    With Fabian Cancellara the grand absentee, the big match at Paris-Roubaix was supposed to be between Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia). After going 12 rounds at the Tour of Flanders, it was Boonen who took the decision in the sprint at Oudenaarde, but Pozzato had earmarked the rocky road to Roubaix as the perfect venue for the rematch.

    On the cobbles at Orchies with a shade under 60 kilometres to go, it all looked to be going according to the script. Boonen, all muscle and Flemish power, put in the first jab, hitting the front and stringing things out. The more graceful Pozzato was quick to parry the blow with some finesse of his own, closing the gap with typically fluid pedal strokes.

    The anticipated slugging match would never materialise, however. Shortly afterwards, Boonen, seconded by his teammate Niki Terpstra, opened a small gap over Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan (BMC) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar). Capitalising on a moment of hesitation from the two Italians, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep pair rammed home their advantage, pummelling the road to stretch their lead out to twenty seconds.

    Moments later, Pozzato was sprawled on the canvas. The knock-out punch was delivered not by Boonen but by the cobbles at Bersée, where Pozzato's wheels slipped from under him on a right hand bend. At that point, the Italian and the chasers were still only 20 seconds down, but as he gingerly remounted, it was clear that his hopes of victory had already...

  • Sky had the numbers in Paris-Roubaix endgame

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) leads the group pursuing Tom Boonen.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2012, 4:02 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Tom was too strong, says Hayman

    They had the numbers and the desire to make a race of it but Team Sky was unable to match an unbelievable performance from Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma QuickStep), who soloed away from the field with over 50 kilometres to go and claimed his fourth Paris-Roubaix title on Sunday.

    Until Boonen's attack Sky had ridden the textbook race: only committing to the front of the peloton in order to save themselves from crashes and mishaps, while sheltering both Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha from the blustery conditions.

    When Boonen attacked Sky was forced into a more aggressive position. With four men in the remnants of the peloton they were the strongest team present in terms of numbers. Alessandro Ballan was the only BMC rider present after Thor Hushovd had crashed, while Farnese Vini's Filippo Pozzato was similarly without support. Rabobank had two men with Lars Boom and Maarten Wynants but they refused to work, leaving Sky to attempt to hold Boonen at a respectable gap.

    Boonen, however, was simply too strong. Although the time deficit held at 30 seconds for a substantial period, Sky was unable to bring the Belgian back to within striking distance. Present with Flecha and Boasson Hagen, they had Mathew Hayman and Ian Stannard rotating on the front.

    It was too much for Boasson Hagen, who again flattered to deceive, while Flecha was at able to muster a counter, eventually finishing 4th on the Roubaix velodrome. Hayman trickled in almost two minutes later in 8th.

    Alessandro Ballan was critical of the British team at the finish,...

  • Hushovd rode out Paris-Roubaix “in pure defiance”

    Former World champion Thor Hushovd (BMC)
    Article published:
    April 09, 2012, 9:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Lost all podium chances to a crash shortly before Boonen's attack

    Thor Hushovd was in good position in Paris-Roubaix, but a crash at nearly the same time Tom Boonen launched his ultimately successful attack once again crushed the BMC Racing Team rider's dreams of winning this race. Nevertheless, he didn't let that stop him and rode “in pure defiance” to finish 14th, over four minutes down.

    Hushovd was behind Juan Antonio Flecha of Sky, who “was about to run into a police officer, so he turned away suddenly. Then I had to jump over a traffic island, but I landed crooked and with low pressure in the tires I just slipped away.

    “I knew right away that the race was over for me,” he told “So I rode in pure defiance.”

    The tall Norwegian irritatedly rejected the idea of a curse against him winning the race. “It's time to stop harping on the damn curse. There is no curse of the World Champion jersey, and there is no curse here in Roubaix.”  

  • Armstrong visits Paris-Roubaix

    Article published:
    April 09, 2012, 10:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Seven-time Tour de France winner congratulates Boonen

    Even though he was never a cobbles specialist during his time as a bike rider, Lance Armstrong visited Paris-Roubaix on Sunday with his former RadioShack-Nissan team. The seven-time Tour de France winner is in France at the moment and reconnoitered the course of the Ironman France in Nice prior to arriving in the team hotel in Northern France, on Saturday evening.

    Armstrong remained within the team bus at the start in Compiègne, avoiding the media, and then traveled with team manager Johan Bruyneel throughout the race. The two stopped at strategic points in front of the peloton to help out with spare wheels in case of punctures. The American was thus on site when Tom Boonen took the victory after having raced the event in front for more than 55 kilometres.

    "Congratulations to Tom Boonen on another amazing Paris Roubaix victory, his fourth of his career. Very impressive," Armstrong tweeted after the race.

    At Paris-Roubaix, the American preferred to remain incognito but this will change if he chooses to race the Nice Ironman on June 24. Race organiser Yves Cordier showed Armstrong around the course on Saturday morning. "Damn sure ain't flat!" was Armstrong's reaction.

    The legendary former cyclist has taken to triathlon since definitely stopping his active career in February 2011. A two-year investigation into his former team, US Postal, for fraud and doping allegations recently concluded without charges being filed.

  • Vansummeren: No one had a chance against Boonen in Paris-Roubaix

    Defending champion Johan Vansummeren finished in 9th place.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2012, 10:28 BST
    Cycling News

    2011 winner salutes 2012 champion

    Johan Vansummeren was the surprise winner of Paris-Roubaix 2011, the sole survivor of an escape group. The Garmin-Barracuda rider had hoped to repeat his feat this year, but finished only ninth, three and a half minutes down. But the Belgian paid the respect due to Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen, saying “He was really impressive.”

    “I just didn't have the legs.  It's that simple,” Vansummeren told 

    But no one really had a chance against Boonen on Sunday, as the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider finished off the race solo in front for more than 50 kilometres. “Tom just rode us out of the wheel, out of the saddle. I never saw anything like it before,” he said. 

    “It was just hopeless. He was much too strong.”

    According to Vansummeren, Boonen's rivals would only have had one chance to catch him. “If the race had gone another 100 kilometers, we might have caught him.”