It was supposed to be the titanic battle between Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), the two cobbled Classics riders of a generation. Both were in top form, both looking for their first Classics win of the season and both eager to land a crucial blow before next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix, but in the end, the Tour of Flanders was robbed of its expected showdown, with Fabian Cancellara crashing out with a broken collarbone.
Boonen still had plenty of work to do before scooping up his third Flanders title of his career but for RadioShack, Cancellara and his loyal fans, the cobbled Classics are now over. With a broken collarbone, Cancellara is out of Paris-Roubaix and will have to wait another 12 months before he can battle Boonen on their favourite terrain once more.
At the finish of Flanders in Oudenaarde, RadioShack’s Dirk Demol, was visibly upset, a masked smile covering up the disappointment the team must be feeling with their talisman lying in a hospital bed with Johan Bruyneel looking on.
Cancellara’s Belgian spring has been chipped away by a run of bad luck. At E3 Harelbeke he crashed twice, and suffered two punctures and despite such set backs he was one of the strongest – if not the strongest –in the race.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Demol talks about Cancellara and what he means to the RadioShack team, who must now pick itself up and strive for a result in Paris-Roubaix next week.
Despite today’s accident, all may not be lost. The team rallied and posted three riders in the top 25, with Tony Gallopin producing another solid ride.