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Boonen denied fourth Gent-Wevelgem win in chaotic finale

By:
Brecht Decaluwé
Published:
March 30, 2014, 21:15 BST,
Updated:
March 30, 2014, 21:17 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 31, 2014
Race:
Gent-Wevelgem
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quick Step)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quick Step)

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Belgian frustrated with 5th place finish

A very frustrated Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) crossed the finish line in Wevelgem after finishing fifth in the bunch sprint at Gent-Wevelgem. Boonen missed the chance to win the race for a record fourth time, concluding a miserable week in which he had to deal with the aftermath of the miscarriage of his partner Lore and an injured thumb due to a crash at Friday's E3 Harelbeke.

Boonen featured in the large group that entered the final kilometre and was in the company of several teammates, including Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin. At 450 metres to go several riders crashed as the pack swerved from right to left. As a result Boonen and his teammates got boxed in, lost momentum and saw the top-3 speeding away.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) sprinted to his first win in Wevelgem ahead of Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Boonen didn't sit up after losing speed and fought back to a fifth place just behind compatriot Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin).

It's not often the Belgian star shows his disappointment about a lost sprint and the scene after the finish line was punctuated by a loud, four-lettered expletive from Boonen who then headed for the team bus. Shortly after Boonen headed back out on his bike and rode to the nearby Kennedy hotel.

Director sportif Wilfried Peeters acknowledged that Boonen not often shows his disappointment.

"No, it's really exceptional. It's a long time since I've seen such a disappointed Tom Boonen," said Peeters. "Much more was possible but it's a positive stimulant for next week.

"He entered the bus and said, ‘It was a lost chance. I had the legs to win. I got boxed in at a few hundred metres to go. If someone could've led me out there then I could've won with more than one bike length.' He was well surrounded but just at that moment nobody could go. It should not happen at this level. We had to close the gap. There's disappointment but it's been a positive test, though."

The injured thumb Boonen sustained in a crash halfway through E3 Harelbeke on Friday seemed to be not as bad as feared. Boonen rode attentively near the front at the hill zone and during the second ascent of the steep, cobbled Kemmelberg Boonen was in the company of on-form Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan.

"Compared to Friday we've made a big step forward," said Peeters. "That's the way we should look at this. Get the positive out of it. Friday we were worried. Saturday morning it looked thick and blue. After the yesterday's training it was more positive. He could have lost today and next week. This morning and during the race his grimace was positive. That's promising for next week. But it's a lost chance to win Gent-Wevelgem."

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