Tom Boonen recovered from a disappointing world championships by netting another season victory in the Circuit Franco-Belge. The European stage race season closer began in Maubeuge, France for a quick 187.9 kilometre long stage which was contested at a whopping 46 kilometres per hour. Boonen got the better of American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Chipotle) and Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts in the bunch sprint.
"I am really pleased, as today's result confirms that after the World Championships I am still on great form and I'll be making the most of this," Boonen said. "There was a lot of action and nervousness during the race today and the group was also split-up into smaller sub-groups due to the strong winds. There were a few breakaway attempts during the final with our team doing a fantastic job during the final two kilometres.
"Steven [de Jongh], Wouter [Weylandt] and Kevin [Hulsmans] set the up the sprint in an exemplary way, putting me in the ideal position to win. I'm amazed and very pleased at the power and sprint I have in my legs, proving I'm in great form something that I'll be making the most of it at the Paris-Tours [on October 12]. "It has become my main objective for the final part of the season."
The start of the first stage of the Franco Belge was spared rain despite an overcast sky for the 187.9 km route between Maubeuge in Mons in Pévèle. After an aggressive start, where several groups escaped only to be reabsorbed, strong winds broke the peloton into three groups. Quick work by the teams brought the field back together in time to reach the four long finishing circuits.
A group of eight went clear on the circuit: Jean Zen (Groupe Gobert.com), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Stuart O'Grady (CSC), Fumiyuki Beppu and Sebastian Siedler (Skil-Shimano), Wilfried Cretskens and Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) and Sven Nevens (Mitsubishi-Jartazi). The Silence Lotto team of Belgian champion Jurgen Roelandts kept the leader's advantage below two minutes.
Rosseler took the three mountain primes as well as the second intermediate sprint before the breakaway began to disintegrate. Seeing that the break was doomed to failure, two men tried to sneak away. Preben Van Hecke and Sébastien Rosseler stayed clear until the last intermediate sprint, won by Rosseler to secure the lead in the sprint classification on top of his lead in the mountains classification.
The sprint was won easily by Boonen, ahead of best young rider Farrar and Roelandts.