Boonen victorious at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke

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
1Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep4:51:59 
2Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team  
3Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling  
4Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
5Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda  
6John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1t4i  
7Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
8Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar  
9Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
10Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar  
11Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team  
12Jens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
13Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
14Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale  
15Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
16Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling  
17Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
18Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
19Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
20Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
21Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
22Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan  
23Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
24Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
25Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
26Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
27Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
28Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team  
29Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD  
30Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
31Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
32Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team  
33Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
34Mathieu Claude (Fra) Team Europcar  
35Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team  
36Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
37Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Project 1t4i  
38Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale  
39Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
40Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
41Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
42Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
43Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank  
44Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
45Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
46Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank0:00:10 
47Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's0:00:25 
48Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling0:00:53 
49Andy Cappelle (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's0:05:38 
50David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
51Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
52Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan  
53Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
54Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
55Luca Ascani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
56Davide Vigano (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
57Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team  
58Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan  
59Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan  
60Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
61Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
62Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
63Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
64Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  
65Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
66Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team  
67Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
68Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
69Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
70Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar  
71Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
72Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
73Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia0:06:36 
74Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony0:09:16 
75Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
76Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
77Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
78Baden Cooke (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
79Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
80Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale  
81Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team  
82Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
83Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
84Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale  
85Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank  
86Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat  
87Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team  
88Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
89James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
90Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
91Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
92Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
93Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda  
94Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team  
95Troels Ronning Vinther (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
96Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
97Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling  
98Sven Vandousselaere (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
99Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
100Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale  
101Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD  
102Svein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
103Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol Team  
104Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack-Nissan  
105Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
106Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Project 1t4i  
DNFBert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
DNFSébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
DNFBaptiste Plackaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
DNFDavy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) Project 1t4i  
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Project 1t4i  
DNFRonan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Project 1t4i  
DNFTom Veelers (Ned) Project 1t4i  
DNFYukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
DNFEgoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFJan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFThomas Bertolini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
DNFPier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
DNFElia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
DNFNico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFFrédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony  
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFStijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFSteven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFGeorge Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team  
DNFThor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team  
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan  
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan  
DNFHayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan  
DNFPhilippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMaarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFFrederique Robert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
DNFSteve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFKristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRomain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFBoris Shpilevsky (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJuan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFAdrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFPablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFDavid Boucher (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFAnthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFFrédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFYauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFValentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFTravis Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFAidis Kruopis (Ltu) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFMatthew Wilson (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFMikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha Team  
DNFAliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team  
DNFVitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD  
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFYuriy Krivtsov (Fra) Lampre - ISD  
DNFTiziano Dall'antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFEnrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFCarlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFMartijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFDavid Millar (GBr) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFAlex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFJacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFJohan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFChristopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling  
DNFLucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank  
DNFMartin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFGregory Habeaux (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFStaf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFArnoud Van Groen (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFWim De Vocht (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFRob Goris (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFEdwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNSLars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNSDominic Klemme (Ger) Project 1t4i  


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