Boonen sprints to victory

Bennati, Farrar round out top three in final dash

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) silenced his critics on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem by winning the sprint ahead of Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) and Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Cervelo) and show that he is on form just a week before the Tour of Flanders.

Gent-Wevelgem is known as the sprinters’ classic but in recent years the breakaways had held off the chasers to steal victory. This year was close, with attacks holding out until sight of the line but despite mechanical problems early in the race, Boonen showed he is still fast in a sprint.

“This race used to be a big goal for me each season but then year after year I focused more and more on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. But I’m proud to have won it because it wasn’t an easy day for me.” Boonen explained.

“It seemed that everything was going wrong before it went right. I had a mechanical problem at the foot of the first climb and that forced me to wait a long time to get service. It was definitely more than a minute.”

“It’s true that I’d have preferred to ride the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke but my team wanted me to ride here. I under stand the reasons and know that the team’s interests are more important than mine. Thanks to this success our team has scored some important ranking points.”

“Fabian won on Saturday and is in great shape but I’ve won today and my form is getting better and better after being illness slowed me before Milan-San Remo. I’m ready for the Tour of Flanders.”

The early action

The skies were overcast and the air chilly in Deinze before the start of the race, but with little wind on the menu, there was no shortage of riders trying to leaving the safety of the peloton. Consequently, the opening section on the flat roads towards the coast was run off at a breakneck pace, with the bunch covering a shade under 52km in the first hour of racing.

The elastic finally snapped soon afterwards, when French champion Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) sparked a move and dragged away Bram Schmitz (Veranda's Willems – Accent), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator) and Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) with him for company. After the break reached its maximum lead of five minutes after 70km, the redoubtable Voeckler took matters in hand to ensure they stayed out there by going to the front and driving the group.

With the race passing into France twice to hit the climb of the Catsberg, Voeckler was certainly not short on motivation, but he soon demonstrated that his escape was by no means a mere exercise in showing off the jersey, and he surged to the head of the group as soon as the road went upwards. That immediately put Schmitz and Timmer in trouble and they were dropped on the second ascent of the Catsberg (154km), as the gap to the peloton slipped down to 2:20.

Behind, there was a moment of panic for Tom Boonen (Quick Step) when he suffered a mechanical problem on the climb and after a long delay he was forced to chase back on in the company of Kevin Van Impe. Like Fabian Cancellara at the previous day’s E3 Prijs, Boonen made it safely back to the peloton but the Belgian used up a lot of valuable energy in his pursuit. Yet it also seemed to be a source of extra motivation.

The next man to suffer misfortune was Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), when he punctured at the foot of the Kemmelberg, just as Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) hit the front of the climb. The Belgian’s brief show of forcing sent ripples through the peloton, and that reshuffling of the pack would ultimately contribute to sparking a short-lived but dangerous move.

After the next climb of the Monteberg, George Hincapie (Team BMC), Matt Hayman (Team Sky), Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank) and Geoffroy Lequatre (RadioShack) managed to forge clear of the bunch, and they were soon joined by the in-form Gilbert, Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo), Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), Jelle Wallays (Topsport-Vlaanderen) and Gert Steegmans (Quick Step).

A break featuring Gilbert and Hushovd was never going to be allowed to simply ride away, however, and they were soon reeled back in once Rabobank and Saxo Bank got themselves organised behind, and the pace ratcheted up in the bunch as it approached the decisive second ascent of the Kemmelberg with 41km to go.

Sagan lights up the finale

The cobbled climb is often the key to Gent-Wevelgem and Thomas Voeckler managed to rid himself of his remaining breakaway companions and crest the summit alone. But the peloton was now just 40 seconds behind and closing at pace. In the main group, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) showed his hand on the Kemmelberg with a brief burst that was closely watched by Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky). His effort was enough to force another brief selection over the summit of the climb, with Hushovd, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) among those keeping tabs on the young Slovak.

Once Voeckler was swallowed up after the fast descent of the Kemmelberg, there was a brief regrouping behind but then Sagan jumped again ahead of the final climb of the Monteberg, with 35km to go. This time he was joined by his teammate Maciej Bodnar, Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). The quartet soon opened a 30 second lead thanks to some smooth collaboration.

Gilbert made an abortive attempt to bridge alone but then the large group behind finally began to organise itself with HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Lotto sharing the load. HTC were riding for Cavendish who had got back after his mechanical. Thomas Voeckler was also lending a hand, but with Sagan and Chavanel driving hard up front, the gap grew to 42 seconds with 26km to go.

Cavendish crashes out of contention

While Sagan and company were continuing their move off the front of the bunch, disaster struck one of the other pre-race favourites, when Cavendish crashed at the rear of the bunch. The Manxman couldn’t hide his frustration at missing out on the chance at a classic win in such banal circumstances, and even though he began to chase alone, he must have known that his race was over.

The crash split the front group and gave the four attackers extra hope of success. However while Cavendish lost any chance of victory, Gilbert became more convinced of his chances as did BMC, who also worked hard to pull the quartet back.

The long straight roads of the finale to Wevelgem allowed the chasers to see the four riders up the road and the race turned into a pursuit match.

The gap fell second by second but the kilometres were also down to single figures and the race could have gone either way. With five kilometres to go the gap was down to single figures and Bodnar sat up after giving his all to help teammate Sagan. The prodigious Slovakian rider would have been favourite for the sprint but the now 30-strong bunch was closing on them.

Stannard knew it was better to risk it all than sit back and be swept up. He jumped away with two kilometres to go and dropped Sagan and Chavanel. As he speeded under the one kilometre to go banner, it looked like he could do it. But then the long straight road to the finish seemed to drain his legs. Suddenly the sprinters were on him and swamped him with just 150 metres to go.

Farrar opened up the sprint but Boonen had a better lead out from Steegmans and timed his acceleration better. He hit the front and held his speed all the way to the line.

He had admitted he no longer loved bunch sprints but he loved winning Gent-Wevelgem. Suddenly his season was back on track. Quick Step would no longer be last in the UCI ranking and Boonen had responded to Fabian Cancellara. Bring on the Tour of Flanders.

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 4:35:00  
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek    
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
4 André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
5 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
6 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano    
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad    
8 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale    
9 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
10 Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard    
11 Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ    
12 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
13 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
14 Tiziano Dall'antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
15 Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
16 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar    
17 Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ    
18 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
19 Robert Hunter (RSA) Team RadioShack    
20 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
21 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad    
22 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
23 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
24 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
25 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale    
26 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
27 Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - ISD    
28 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar    
29 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team RadioShack    
30 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team    
31 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
32 Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
33 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling    
34 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
35 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling    
36 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:09  
37 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team RadioShack    
38 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard    
39 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard    
40 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
41 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
42 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:14  
43 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:16  
44 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:20  
45 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar    
46 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale    
47 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:23  
48 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
49 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:28  
50 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:44  
51 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 0:00:55  
52 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
53 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:02:42  
54 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
55 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
56 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent 0:03:15  
57 Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:03:17  
58 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 0:03:18  
59 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
60 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad    
61 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
62 Saïd Haddou (Fra) Team Europcar    
63 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Team RadioShack    
64 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha Team    
65 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
66 Allan Davis (Aus) Pro Team Astana    
67 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team    
68 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling    
69 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team    
70 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
71 Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
72 Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
73 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
74 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD    
75 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team RadioShack    
76 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
77 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
78 Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet    
79 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team Astana    
80 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShack    
81 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team    
82 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
83 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
84 Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:11:28  
85 Michael Morkov (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
86 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team    
87 Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
88 Matti Helminen (Fin) Landbouwkrediet    
89 Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
90 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
91 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
92 Yann Huguet (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
93 Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
94 Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
95 Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
96 Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr) Lampre - ISD    
97 Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
98 Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
99 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha Team    
100 Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
101 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale    
102 Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team    
103 Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team    
104 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
105 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD    
106 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
107 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
108 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
109 Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
110 John Murphy (USA) BMC Racing Team    
111 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana    
112 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ    
113 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
114 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
115 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
116 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team    
117 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team RadioShack    
118 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack    
119 Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
120 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
121 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling    
122 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard    
123 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
124 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling    
125 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling    
126 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar    
127 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ    
128 Carlos Oyarzun (Chi) Movistar Team    
129 Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ    
130 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
131 Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
132 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar    
133 José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Movistar Team    
134 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team    
135 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:16:30  
136 Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team    
137 Adam Hansen (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
138 Danny Pate (USA) HTC-Highroad    
139 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
140 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
141 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
142 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
143 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
144 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
145 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
146 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
147 Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
148 Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team    
149 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
150 Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
151 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
152 Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
153 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
154 Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
155 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team    
156 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
157 Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale    
158 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet    
159 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Alex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Matt Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Adam Blyth (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Dominic Klemme (Ger) Leopard Trek    
DNF Stuart O'grady (Aus) Leopard Trek    
DNF Joost Posthuma (Ned) Leopard Trek    
DNF Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Leopard Trek    
DNF Martin Mortensen (Den) Leopard Trek    
DNF Robert Wagner (Ger) Leopard Trek    
DNF Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek    
DNF Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling    
DNF Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Vitaliy Kondrut (Ukr) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Balint Szeghalmi (Hun) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Rob Goris (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Bram Schmitz (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Roger Kluge (Ger) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNS Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team    

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