Boonen ran out of legs

Tom Boonen's ninth place in the world championships yesterday caused the outgoing title holder some...

Tom Boonen's ninth place in the world championships yesterday caused the outgoing title holder some disappointment at the finish, as he did want to keep hold of the precious rainbow jersey. Boonen rode a smart race, but cursed himself for not drinking enough at the end. "I think I made an error in not drinking quite enough through that lap," he told Sportwereld. "It was warmer than expected. I had reckoned that I needed a bidon every lap. I drank twice from it and through it away. That was not sensible of me."

Boonen, like most of the rest of the field, saw the world title ride away with 500 metres to go when Bettini, Zabel, Valverde and Sanchez gapped everyone. But even in the sprint for fifth, he was not up there. "At the end I didn't have the legs to succeed myself," he said. "When I realised that it wouldn't be me, then better Paolo than someone else. It stays in the team...Paolo is a nice world champion." Quick.Step will now have the benefit of the world champion in its ranks for a second year in a row.

Boonen praised his teammates on the Belgian squad, even if he did not have anyone to lead him out in the finale. "Yes, maybe [it would have helped], then maybe I could have been with the four that suddenly surprised the pack. Of course it makes it easier to handle the last 25 efforts that you've made. Still, I think that the team worked perfectly for me; you can only speak of a perfect tactic if you have the world champion in your camp.

"This is not a disappointed man," added Boonen. "I think that I rode quite a good World's. The most important thing was that my own result had nothing to do with condition. Actually, the whole championship unfolded until the last seven hundred metres just as I wanted. We tried to keep the pack together. I was good enough to become world champion, but the circumstances dictated otherwise."

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