Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) made history today by becoming the first rider to win the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen four times in a row. The 2005 World Champion did so in style, taking the 50th edition in a four-up sprint over Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC), German Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), and Italian Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas).
Boonen's good fortunes made up for those of his teammate and current world champion Paolo Bettini, who snapped his rear derailleur on the Knokteberg..
"This was the toughest of the four," Boonen said about his fourth consecutive win. "I didn't dare to think about those statistics as I thought I was unable to react on multiple attacks but apparently they were dead tired as well," said Boonen. "During the finale I suffered from cramps, something which doesn't happening to me that often. Coming over the finish line I wanted to raise my arms but a cramp got into my hand. Probably I haven't been drinking enough."
Boonen will be the number one favorite next week in the Tour of Flanders; he knows he will be a marked man. "The E3 Prijs doesn't keep any secrets; if you're good here, you're good in the Tour of Flanders as well."
"I wasn't confident for the sprint because I knew it would be hard to finish it but the [tail]-wind was in my favour as nobody could get away. Luckily Burghardt was there as well, he reacted nervously on everybody who moved. Besides that I have to admit that the young German was unbelievably strong on the hills," Boonen continued.
The former World Champion will be the man to beat next week in the Tour of Flanders and Boonen realizes this very well. "The E3 Prijs doesn't keep any secrets; if you're good here, you're good in the Tour of Flanders as well." Boonen is riding well, but it remains to be seen if he will be free of back problems that have plagued him. He was seen Saturday standing on his pedals often, probably to stretch his painful back.