By Gregor Brown in Sanremo, Italy
A case of cramp prevented Tom Boonen contending the sprint finish in Milano-Sanremo Saturday. The dual Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen champion blamed a 15th place on an insufficient amount of water and the weather.
"I had cramps on the Cipressa," the Quick Step rider said. "It does not happen often. It happened to me the first time I won Flanders, but then I could ride through it."
Quick Step had a strong team in place to deliver Tom Boonen to one of his season's goals. Sylvain Chavanel, Allan Davis and Matteo Tosatto were there for the 2005 world champion.
"I had to sit down on the Cipressa and then come back on the downhill. Tosatto took me back up, but I did not think I could win. Davis had the opportunity. Even in top shape I would have been third to Heinrich Haussler and Mark Cavendish, they were so strong."
Cavendish caught the early attack of Haussler at 350 metres from the finish line along Sanremo's waterfront and edged past Haussler to win in a photo finish.
"Was he a surprise? Yes. I saw him in Tirreno-Adriatico and he was dropped on the climbs, but today he was another person. I had to check his number to make sure it was him!"
Boonen will head back to Belgium to prepare for a third victory in his home race, Ronde van Vlaanderen, which takes place in two weeks.
"I will be fine for the Northern Classics. I need to keep an eye on Haussler, though. I thought he was past his peak, but apparently not."