With his second Belgian title Tom Boonen kicked off his second part of the season with a bang. His win at the Belgian championships follows after a unique quadruple in the spring classics.
Boonen lives a stone's throw away from the 15km long course in Geel which turned into floodplain due to heavy rain showers in the first half of the race. The race was decided by a move from Boonen at 40km from the finish line, exploiting a mechanical from co-favorite Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol). Together with teammate Julien Vermote and four others he managed to keep the peloton and defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) at distance. While the sun started glimpsing through the clouds in Geel the sprint was a formality. Boonen easily won ahead of Kristof Goddaert (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator). The 31 year-old was delighted with his tenth victory of the season.
"It was a very nice day but I was quite nervous. It took a lot of effort to get away. Vermote struggled hard to join the breakaway as well but he managed to recover. Together with the headwind he was crucial to control the others in the final lap," Boonen said to Sporza.
"My hands were cramped in the final kilometer and I almost messed it up. I shifted with 200m to go but dropped my chain. Luckily nobody noticed it. There still a lot of work to do but I'm on schedule [for the Olympics]. Now it's a matter of recovering well for the final training block ahead of the Olympics," Boonen said.
Runner-up Goddaert wasn't disappointed with his sprint defeat against Boonen. "I didn't expect this result before the race but I think it's deserved because I made the race as well. Three years ago I came third at a young age and then I figured I could become Belgian champion one day. Now I'm second so hopefully in three years I can win," Goddaert said. "It's not a disgrace to come second behind Boonen. Early on I struggled big time to keep up in the breakaway attempt because it was a hard transition to move out of the wheels into the wind at such a level."
With 253km on tap and stormy weather overhead, the Belgian championships would always be one for the hard men. The day's first breakaway got away on the second lap, and included Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Staf Schierlinkcx (Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas), Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Maarten Wynants (Rabobank).
Laurent Evrard (Wallonie Bruxelles-Crédit Agricole) tried to go across, but only wound up riding in between the two groups for more than two hours.
The day was fraught with crashes and flat tires, but the length of the race meant there was plenty of time to regain the race for riders like Boonen and Devolder. The six leaders held a lead of almost five minutes before the peloton began to react in earnest with 60km to go.
It wasn't until Boonen took matters in his own hands inside the 30km mark that the nail was finally put into the breakaway's coffin, although rather than bringing the peloton to the break, Boonen broke away with a small group of riders and reached his teammate Maes ahead.
With him was his teammate Julien Vermote, Boonen bridged up to Jan Bakelandts (RadioShack-Nissan) and Gorik Gardeyn (Champion System) together with Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator).
They joined the front group with two laps to go, but with a lack of cooperation, Boonen attacked and split the group, leaving behind the early escapees and Gardeyn, leaving a new breakaway of five with 20km to go.
The efforts in the peloton closed the gap to under 30 seconds when defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) followed Boonen's example and took the race into his own hands with 10km remaining. He worked hard but only managed to gain 12 seconds on the field while the leaders kept a hold on a 20 second advantage.
The sun finally broke out of the clouds with 4km left in the race, and Gilbert was not making up ground on the leaders, and the peloton was right behind.
A lack of cooperation in the field gave the leaders an advantage, despite a lively attack by a Topsport Vlaanderen rider, who counter-attacked as Gilbert was caught.
Six hours in, the sprint finally came down to the five intrepid riders, and with teammate Vermote as a lead-out Boonen easily dusted his competitors to take back the Belgian title.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)||5:59:07|
|2||Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|3||Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|4||Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Nissan)||0:00:02|
|5||Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)||0:00:04|
|6||Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)||0:00:11|
|7||Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)||0:00:16|
|8||Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|9||Niko Eeckhout (An Post - Sean Kelly)|
|10||Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|11||Michael Van Staeyen (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|12||Bert De Backer (Argos-Shimano)|
|13||Maxime Vantomme (Katusha Team)|
|14||Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge)|
|15||Nico Sijmens (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)|
|16||Baptiste Plackaert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|17||Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|18||Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|19||Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|20||Kurt Hovelynck (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|21||Kevin Peeters (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|22||Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)|
|23||Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|24||Sjef De Wilde (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)|
|25||Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|26||Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|27||Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team)|
|28||Jim Aernouts (Sunweb - Revor)|
|29||Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)|
|30||Davy Commeyne (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|31||Ben Hermans (Radioshack-Nissan)|
|32||Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|33||Jurgen Van Goolen (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)|
|34||Sven Jodts (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|35||Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)|
|36||Klaas Lodewyck (BMC Racing Team)|
|37||Romain Zingle (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)|
|38||Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|39||Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|40||Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|41||Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|42||Koen Barbe (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|43||Kevin Hulsmans (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)|
|44||Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda)|
|45||Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|46||Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|47||Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|48||Nick Nuyens (Team Saxo Bank)|
|49||Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|50||Kevin Seeldraeyers (Pro Team Astana)|
|51||Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|52||Steven Caethoven (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)||0:00:32|
|53||Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Barracuda)|
|54||Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)||0:00:39|
|55||Kenny De Haes (Lotto Belisol Team)||0:01:18|
|56||James Vanlandschoot (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)||0:04:09|
|57||Staf Scheirlinckx (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)||0:04:58|
|58||Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|59||Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|60||Jonas Vangenechten (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|61||Fabio Polazzi (Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole)|
|62||Joeri Stallaert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|
|63||Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)|
|64||Maarten Wynants (Rabobank Cycling Team)|
|65||Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|66||Frederique Robert (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|67||Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|68||Jérôme Baugnies (Team NetApp)|
|69||Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|70||Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)|
|71||Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|72||Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)|
|73||Gorik Gardeyn (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)|
|74||Jens Debusschere (Lotto Belisol Team)|
|75||Vincent Baestaens (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)|