Dual leaders play roles to perfection
Crossing the finish line in 12th place and as the second-best Belgium in the world championships road race was of no relevance to former world and current national champion Tom Boonen as his teammate Philippe Gilbert had won the race just seconds ahead of his chasing pack. ‘Tomeke’ has enjoyed one of his best seasons in as many years and was a real favourite to win the 261km elite men’s race. The dual leadership with Philippe Gilbert never appeared to trouble Boonen, speaking about their roles ahead of Sunday’s race
"Mentally, I could not find better preparation for the world cup. And in collaboration with Philippe Gilbert, I see no problems. Phil can join in the offensive when the Spaniards let loose on the Cauberg. I can put pressure on the back. In the final Phil can attack on the Caubergitself," Boonen told Het Laatste Nieuws.
Despite missing out on capturing his second world title of the week - after winning the team time trial with his Omega Pharma-Quikstep squad - Boonen had nothing but good words for what was arguably the strongest team in the race. Belgium finished with three riders in the chase group including Boonen, Greg van Avermaet and Bjorn Leukemans with Jurgen Roelandts trailing in just 17 seconds behind.
"With two favorites in the team, we each had our roles to perfection," Boonen said to Lavenir. "At the foot of the Cauberg we were both there. Gilbert attacked and I was at the front of the pack. I immediately knew that it was for the world title but congratulations to each one of my teammates. We managed the almost perfect race, fulfilling one of the greatest days in the history of Belgian cycling."
Boonen had already taken 12 victories coming into the men’s road race however, Gilbert’s showed that his season of troubles was behind him when he took his first win of the year during the Vuelta España. Gilbert made his winning move on a similarly punchy climb toward the finish of stage 9 and then took his second win of the grand tour on stage 19.
"I also thank my team [BMC] because despite my bad season they did not put any pressure but continued to support me. I had three goals for 2012: the Classics yielded nothing, I found a good level during the Olympic race, and today I was super. But this win is not just for me. All riders of the Belgian team have delivered a fantastic job," said Gilbert to Lavenir.