Team falls short as Cancellara wins
Belgium's favourite fell short to accomplish a fourth win in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was in doubts as to where his form was after spending some time off the bike two weeks ago. A steady ride in Gent-Wevelgem gave him hope but in the Ronde he fell short when top favourite Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) attacked on the Oude Kwaremont. Cancellara went on to win and equal Boonen's record of three wins. Afterwards the Belgian star said he would have been surprised if he had featured in the finale.
"It was quite realistic I guess. It's clear that before the race I would have taken the opportunity to head to the finish with three men, but I fell a percentage short. That's all, really. I felt good until 230km and then my light started to fade so I had to watch what I did. I managed my race well but fell short on the Kwaremont, but managed to bounce back. I think I can be satisfied that I'm better than last week, a lot better."
"Now the focus is fully on next week," Boonen said while sitting in the doorway of the team bus, referring to next week's Paris-Roubaix. Team manager Patrick Lefevere was on the same line as Boonen.
"In the final kilometres Tom got better again but on the tough climbs you see that the few days that he was out are taking its toll. He's got a week to win another race," Lefevere said, putting the pressure back on Boonen's shoulders.
When asked about the team tactics Boonen referred to a lack of communication late in the race, but mainly the failure from himself and Nikki Terpstra to go with the big moves on the Oude Kwaremont climb at 17km from the finish. Teammate Stijn Vandenbergh defended the team colours in the lead group but finished fourth in the sprint. Terpstra finished sixth, with Boonen winning the sprint for seventh place at half a minute from winner Cancellara.
"We raced to have as many teammates in front as possible. We were unlucky that Stybar nor I were able to go along in a group behind them. Then Niki fell just short to come back. In the final half hour, 45 minutes the communication dropped away so we didn't know where we all were riding. Maybe it would've been possible to get someone on the podium but I think we got the maximum out of it," Boonen said.
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