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Boonen victorious at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke

By:
Brecht Decaluwé

Record fifth victory for Boonen at Belgian classic

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) proved he is back to his prime form, winning E3 Prijs-Vlaanderen from a large group sprint. “I’m very happy. It’s my first little record. I was eager to win and now there’s a little bit less pressure on my shoulder. I like a big win ahead of [the Tour of] Flanders,” Boonen said.

The former world champion seemed to start his sprint too early from the final bend, but unlike his finish in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he went too soon and lost to Sep Vanmarcke, this time Boonen had enough speed to hold off Oscar Freire (Katusha), who made a late lunge for the line.

“Everybody misjudged their sprint I think,” Boonen said. That included Spanish star Oscar Freire, who regretted a great opportunity to add the E3 Harelbeke on his palmares. “I came here to win the race but I made a big mistake in the sprint. I was really good and I saved my legs during the last kilometers as I expected a sprint. We couldn’t see the finish and I started the sprint too late; I sprinted only in the last 30m,” Freire said.

Sky's Bernhard Eisel was third. “You could see everybody was tired,” the Austrain said. “I was fourth at 1km from the finish but nobody was moving over anymore.”

The final escape with Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was pulled back by the efforts of Vacansoleil-DCM and Team Sky with 7km to go, and then Sky got to work pulling for the sprint. An attack from Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs-Verandas Willems) with 3km to go never got far, with Saxo Bank, Katusha and Quickstep all vying for the sprint.

The victory will be a huge morale boost for Boonen ahead of Gent-Wevelgem and his main targets, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

There were many talking points to take from a race that featured numerous crashes and a suspected broken collarbone for Garmin-Barracuda’s David Millar.

While tackling the long pavé section of the Paddestraat after 64km of racing a group of nine riders went the distance. The group included
Belgians Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol), Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) and Kevin Hulsmans (Farnese Vini – Selle Italia). The latter had two teammates from his Italian team in the breakaway group, Luca Ascani and Oscar Gatto. Damien Gaudin (Europcar), Gregor Gazvoda (AG2R La Mondiale) and Michael Morkov (Team Saxo Bank) completed the nine-man leading group.

Ten kilometres further in, the peloton had to stop at a railroad crossing and this meant the gap grew up to a maximum of 6:45. That gap dropped back to five minutes when approaching the legendary Muur in Geraardsbergen, thanks to the efforts of the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team. The pace in the peloton remained high during the following 20km and when arriving in La Houppe for the real start of the hill zone the gap was down to two minutes.

In the descent of the Boigneberg there was a major crash in the peloton. Several riders went down at high speed including Millar (Garmin-Barracuda), Koen de Kort (Project 1T4I), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Jens Mouris (Greenedge), Sébastien Hinault (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Jan Gyselinck (Cofidis).

On the Taaienberg Boonen cranked things up a gear. Vanmarcke struggled to keep his wheel but he was the first to follow. Cancellara, Devolder, Ballan, Leif Hoste, Luca Paolini and Björn Leukemans were the first to bridge up, with John Degenkolb, Alessandro Ballan and Edvald Boasson Hagen joining this group little later. Ian Stannard (Sky), Matteo Tosatto (Team Saxo Bank), Daniel Oss (Liquigas), Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Filippo Pozzato , Tony Gallopin, Bernard Eisel (Sky) and Maarten Wynants (Rabobank) followed suit.

There were too many riders in the group to co-operate effectively and Gallopin sneaked away on the twisting roads between the Taaienberg and the Kruisberg. Thanks mainly to the efforts from the Europcar team the favourites were caught back.

In front the three Farnese Vini riders were still present, alongside the likes of Morkov, Dockx and Gaudin. When tackling the Kapelberg at 43km from the finish only six riders were left in the front group, with the peloton led by the Omega Pharma-Quickstep boys at 20s. In the background Philippe Gilbert (BMC) abandoned the race.

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The twin climbs of Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont were the next obstacles to face the riders. Gatto hit the Paterberg in first position, with Hulsmans blocking the way for the rest of the leaders. Behind them Boonen led the first part of the peloton over the Paterberg but no big gaps were created. Gatto reached the Oude Kwaremont with 45 seconds on the peloton, where Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) set the pace when hitting the cobbles.

Cancellara took over the command and only Vanmarcke, Boonen, Pozzato and Sagan were able to keep up. But then bad luck struck the Swiss rider, who flatted while still on the Oude Kwaremont. He received a new bike but right after the tough climb Cancellara collided with a spectator and a Rabobank rider for further bad luck.

Forty seconds behind Gatto there was a group of thirteen riders including Boonen, Vanmarcke, Pozzato, Sagan, Chavanel, Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana), Simon Spilak (Katusha), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Van Avermaet, Leukemans, Ballan, Matti Breschel (Rabobank) and Degenkolb.

With 30km to go Chavanel, Spilak and Muravyev chased down Gatto. Spilak dropped back but the two others bridged up with the Italian on top of the Knokteberg. Painfully enough Gatto flatted right after being caught back. In the chase group Vanmarcke blew up on the Knokteberg and only nine men survived the penultimate climb: Boonen, Sagan, Degenkolb, Pozzato, Ballan, Van Avermaet, Iglinsky and Leukemans. Meanwhile, Cancellara worked hard in the peloton of about forty riders at short distance from this group of favorites. The situation at 21km from the finish: Chavanel and Muravyev with 25 seconds on a large group of about 50 riders.

With 15km to go Stijn Devolder accelerated on the Tiegemberg. Pozzato added a counter-attack to that but their efforts were in vain to break away. Meanwhile the two leaders were brought back in sight on the long wide roads towards Harelbeke. Another counter-attack with Vincent Jerôme (Europcar) and Niki Tersptra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was marked by Sagan, Leukemans, Vanmarcke and Langeveld. Shortly afterwards their move was neutralized as well and the stage was set for Boonen to prevail in a sprint finish that played to his strengths and delighted the home supporters.

Full Results
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 4:51:59  
2 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team    
3 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling    
4 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
5 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda    
6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1t4i    
7 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
8 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar    
9 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
10 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar    
11 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team    
12 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
13 Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
14 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale    
15 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
16 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
17 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
18 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
19 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
20 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
21 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
22 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan    
23 Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
24 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
25 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
26 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
27 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
28 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team    
29 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD    
30 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
31 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
32 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
33 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
34 Mathieu Claude (Fra) Team Europcar    
35 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team    
36 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
37 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Project 1t4i    
38 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale    
39 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
40 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
41 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
42 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
43 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank    
44 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
45 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
46 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:10  
47 Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's 0:00:25  
48 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:53  
49 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's 0:05:38  
50 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar    
51 Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
52 Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan    
53 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
54 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
55 Luca Ascani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
56 Davide Vigano (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
57 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team    
58 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan    
59 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan    
60 Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
61 Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
62 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
63 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
64 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
65 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
66 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team    
67 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar    
68 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
69 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
70 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar    
71 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
72 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
73 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia 0:06:36  
74 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony 0:09:16  
75 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
76 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
77 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
78 Baden Cooke (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
79 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
80 Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale    
81 Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team    
82 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
83 Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
84 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale    
85 Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank    
86 Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat    
87 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team    
88 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team    
89 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's    
90 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
91 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
92 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
93 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda    
94 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team    
95 Troels Ronning Vinther (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
96 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
97 Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling    
98 Sven Vandousselaere (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
99 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
100 Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale    
101 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD    
102 Svein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
103 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol Team    
104 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack-Nissan    
105 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
106 Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin - Barracuda    
DNF Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Project 1t4i    
DNF Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
DNF Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
DNF Baptiste Plackaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
DNF Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
DNF Bert De Backer (Bel) Project 1t4i    
DNF Koen De Kort (Ned) Project 1t4i    
DNF Ronan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Project 1t4i    
DNF Tom Veelers (Ned) Project 1t4i    
DNF Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar    
DNF Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Thomas Bertolini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
DNF Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
DNF Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
DNF Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony    
DNF Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Sander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
DNF Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
DNF George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan    
DNF Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan    
DNF Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan    
DNF Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Maarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
DNF Frederique Robert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
DNF Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
DNF Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Boris Shpilevsky (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Adrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
DNF David Boucher (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
DNF Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
DNF Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
DNF Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat    
DNF Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Jens Mouris (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
DNF Travis Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
DNF Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
DNF Matthew Wilson (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
DNF Mikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team    
DNF Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Tiziano Dall'antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team    
DNF Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
DNF Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team    
DNF Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling    
DNF Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Barracuda    
DNF David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Barracuda    
DNF Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin - Barracuda    
DNF Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - Barracuda    
DNF Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda    
DNF Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling    
DNF Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank    
DNF Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's    
DNF Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's    
DNF Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's    
DNF Wim De Vocht (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's    
DNF Rob Goris (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's    
DNF Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNS Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol Team    
DNS Dominic Klemme (Ger) Project 1t4i