It was the most emphatic of victories. Omega Pharma - QuickStep's Tom Boonen rode into the record books equalling Roger De Vlaeminck's all-time win record of four victories in the Paris-Roubaix. Hot on the heels of his victory at the Tour of Flanders, it was the second time the Belgian had taken the prestigious double, so it was no surprise that it earned Cyclingnews' readers votes as the Best One-day Race of 2012.
Boonen rode the final 52km of the 257km race alone to win by 1:39 over a five-man chase group led across the finish line in the Roubaix velodrome by Sébastien Turgot (Europcar). Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rounded out the podium for third place in a photo-finish with the Frenchman.
"I was not really thinking about the winning race or doing a record," Boonen said. "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 km, 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 50km in front of me. I think it was the best option.
"The velodrome finish line, it's the only one where you can do two laps where all the people are," continued Boonen. "It's the only finish line where you have one kilometre where you can bond with the people that are there. It's just such a special race. Paris-Roubaix, only one race like it in the world."
Boonen's Flanders win was a distant second, according to Cyclingnews readers. Significant changes to the route for this year caused controversy, with riders and fans reacting with consternation to the removal of the Muur van Geraardsbergen from the parcours. There too, Boonen would create history, just the fourth rider in cycling history to win the Tour of Flanders three times. The 31-year-old took out the race ahead of Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) in a three-man sprint to the line.
In third in this year's voting, was Simon Gerrans' victory at Milan - San Remo. The Orica-GreenEdge rider became the second Australian in history and in as many years to take out La Primavera, after Matt Goss won in 2011. Gerrans out-sprinted Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) after the Poggio once again proved decisive in the final selection.
|#||Best one day race of 2012||Result|
|2||Tour of Flanders||12.78%|
|4||Olympic Games Road Race - Men||6.82%|
|6||Olympic Games Road Race-Women||4.95%|
|7||Tour of Lombardy||2.92%|
|9||Road Race World Championship-Elite women||1.94%|
|10||Omloop Het Nieuwsblad||0.80%|