Boonen wins 2012 Tour of Flanders

Glory on the cobbles for Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider

Local favourite Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the 2012 Tour of Flanders on Sunday afternoon, holding off Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) in a three-man sprint to the line to secure his third win in the popular Belgian race. Boonen became the fourth rider in cycling history to win the Tour of Flanders three times.

"I was worried about heading to the finish with those Italians. They know each other well and I feared that they would kill me, but the strong headwind was my ally," said Boonen. "I had to count on my sprint. I started too early and didn't have much left but it was enough."

With his third win in the Tour of Flanders, the Belgian joins Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magnie and Eric Leman as a triple winner of the cycling Monument. "That is fantastic. I never expected that."

The much-anticipated battle between Boonen and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) failed to materialise after the Swiss rider crashed out dramatically with 62km to go. Cancellara broke his collarbone.

"I didn't see it. It's sad because with Fabian it would've been much nicer," Boonen told Sporza.

Boonen, Pozzato and Ballan were left to provide the finale's drama in front of fanatical and generous crowds. The trio made a decisive move by pulling clear with 18km left, and the Belgian prevailed in the end, continuing in the brilliant form that he has sustained so far in 2012.

In the final kilometers, the efforts of the three riders resembled a three-up match sprint on a velodrome as they played cat and mouse games toward the finish.

The two Italians who flanked Boonen on the podium were left disappointed, especially Pozzato who felt that he was the strongest man in the race. "I had the impression that Boonen was tired and that I could beat him but in the last five kilometers he proved the opposite. In the sprint he can build on his explosive skills," Pozzato told Sporza.

Ballan, as the slowest rider of the three in a sprint, tried to get away several times in an effort to repeat his 2007 Tour of Flanders victory. "The finale was tough. On the final ascent of the Paterberg we had a gap on Boonen, and I thought we would head to Oudenaarde with the two of us but he held on," said Ballan. "On the way to the finish, Tom was super. I couldn't wait for the sprint but he kept catching me."

The sprint for fourth place was won by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) ahead of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and the rest of the large first chase group. "The strongest three were ahead. We had Ballan in front, so it wasn't up to me to chase. I'm happy with fourth place," Van Avermaet told Sporza.

Action from the gun

Immediately after leaving Bruges, the breakaway attempts started. On the first wide roads, nobody got away but the altered route through Zerkegem, the town where 1935 Tour de France winner Romain Maes was born 100 years ago, made a difference. After going through Zerkegem's tiny roads, a group of 15 riders representing 14 teams got away.

The group included high-profile riders like sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda), triple Grand Tour stage winner Pablo Lastras Garcia (Movistar) and several breakaway specialists like David Boucher (FDJ-Big Mat), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol). The other names in the group were Manuel Belletti (AG2R La Mondiale), Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Baptiste Planckaert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Massimo Graziato (Lampre-ISD), Vladimir Isaichev (Katusha) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano). NetApp was represented by two riders: Daniel Schorn and Andreas Schillinger.

Despite the efforts from the Omega Pharma - Quick Step team on behalf of top favorite Boonen, the 15 leaders gained time on the peloton. Boonen's men switched the pace up a notch without going full gas and as they approached the first pavé sections near Kruishoutem after 85km of racing, the leaders' gap was up to nearly six minutes.

The Garmin-Barracuda team moved to the front at the cobbles of the Huisepontweg and Doorn, later joined by the GreenEdge team and others, who brought the gap down to 5:30 as they passed through the finish town Oudenaarde after 100km of racing.

At the third climb of the day, the Molenberg, Cancellara flatted and the peloton split up with six riders setting up a counter-attack. A six-man chase group trailed the lead group by four minutes and included Matthew Hayman (Sky), Tomas Vaitkus (GreenEdge), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Aliaksandr Kyuschinski (Katusha), Alexandre Pichot (Europacar) and Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM). Boonen wouldn't let them get away and they were caught before they hit the next climb, the Rekelberg.

Due to more accelerations from Hayman, Björn Leukemans, Thor Hushovd, Johan Vansummeren, Stijn Vandenbergh and Daniele Bennati, the gap dropped further to just three minutes as the leaders rode over the Berendries and the Valkenberg. When they started on the first of the loops with the dual ascents of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, the speed went up another notch although there were no specific attacks in the peloton.

The Koppenberg awaited the riders. In front, only nine men survived it, and they finished off the tough cobbled climb with a gap of two minutes on the peloton. At the feed zone after the Koppenberg - 64km from the finish - bad luck struck Cancellara. The 2010 winner and favorite coming into this edition somehow hit the deck and didn't get back up after he fractured his collarbone in three places.

A large peloton entered Ronse for the first time and powered towards the Kruisberg/Hontond at less than a minute from the leaders. On the Kruisberg, there was an acceleration from Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC). Several men followed the Belgian champion, but a little later they were caught by the peloton while at about the same time, the leaders were also caught. Only David Boucher managed to sneak away just before the regrouping in front. On the descent towards Kluisbergen, there was a high-speed crash in which Sebastiaan Langeveld (GreenEdge) collided with a startled spectator after he tried to move up in the peloton by taking the bike lane to the far right of the road. It appeared as if Langeveld hurt his collarbone or shoulder and he had to abandon.

At the foot of the Oude Kwaremont, upon starting the second loop, Boucher was also caught, bringing the peloton all together. Vanmarcke led on the first stretches of the Kwaremont until Chavanel accelerated. The pace from the French champion caused damage in the peloton and on the following section towards the Paterberg, he didn't look back.

A definitive split

About 25 riders survived this selection, although Flecha, Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Vincent Jérôme (Europcar) anticipated the next steep hill at 34km from the finish. In the sharp corner coming into the Paterberg, there was a crash in the main group, taking down men like Vansummeren and hindering outsiders like Matti Breschel and Peter Sagan. The latter recovered soon and bridged back up with the group of leaders featuring Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Chavanel, Pozzato, Ballan, Vanmarcke, Jérôme, Paolini and Maxim Iglinsky (Astana).

Ballan then applied pressure and seemed to ride away easiliy off the front with 18km to go. Not happy with this development, Boonen and Pozzato bridge up to him. This was the racing-winning split.

The tactical games with the three men started in the final kilometers. Ballan launched a few attacks that Boonen closed each time, and when the Italian former world champion went for the last time, Boonen blasted around him toward the finish line. Pozzato tried to charge up and overtake Boonen, but was not strong enough to over take the Belgian favorite, who won his third Tour of Flanders.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep6:04:33 
2Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
3Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:01 
4Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:38 
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale  
6Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
7Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team  
8Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
9Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team  
10Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
11Grégory Rast (Swi) Radioshack-Nissan  
12Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team  
13Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
14Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
15Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team  
16Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
17Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team  
18Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank  
19Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling  
20Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling  
21Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan  
22Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
23Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
24Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan  
25Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team  
26Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar  
27Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
28Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
29Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
30Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda  
31Jens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
32Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
33Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
34Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD  
35Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet  
36Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
37Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
38Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
39Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
40Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
41Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
42Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
43Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
44Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
45Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
46Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
47Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank0:00:48 
48Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda  
49Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda0:01:06 
50Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:18 
51Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:03:26 
52George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team  
53Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
54Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling  
55Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team  
56Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
57Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling  
58Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling  
59John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano  
60Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
61Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:04:43 
62Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
63Andy Cappelle (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
64Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - Barracuda  
65Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
66Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
67Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team  
68Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
69Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team  
70Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
71Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Team NetApp  
72David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
73Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
74Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar  
75Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
76Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
77Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale  
78Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
79Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling  
80Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
81Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
82Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack-Nissan  
83Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin - Barracuda  
84Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Argos-Shimano  
85Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
86David Boucher (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
87Baptiste Plackaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
88Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team0:15:34 
89Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank  
90Peio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
91Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team  
92Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
93Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
94Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan  
95Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
96Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - Barracuda  
97Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
98Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team  
99Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Barracuda  
100Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale  
101Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank  
102Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
103Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
104Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFKasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
DNFMichael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
DNFMatteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFKenny De Haes (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFJonas Vangenechten (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFFrederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFChristopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling  
DNFGregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRomain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSteve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFBaden Cooke (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFStuart O'grady (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFMatthew Wilson (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFValentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFPierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFRicardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFMiguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFAlan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFAdrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFPablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFAnthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
DNFAlexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team  
DNFDaniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFVitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD  
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFYuriy Krivtsov (Fra) Lampre - ISD  
DNFDavide Vigano (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFMauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFKristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team  
DNFJosé Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team  
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFMaarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFMartijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Barracuda  
DNFFabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan  
DNFMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan  
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan  
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFStijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFSven Vandousselaere (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFFrédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFKoen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFKurt Hovelynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFJonathan Breyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFArnoud Van Groen (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFStefan Van Dijk (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFRob Goris (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
DNFLuca Ascani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
DNFPier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
DNFLuca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Argos-Shimano  
DNFTom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano  
DNFTom Veelers (Ned) Argos-Shimano  
DNFDominic Klemme (Ger) Argos-Shimano  
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano  
DNFRonan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Argos-Shimano  
DNFSébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFCyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) Team NetApp  
DNFDaniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp  
DNFBlaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp  
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp  
DNFAndré Schulze (Ger) Team NetApp  
DNFTimon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp  
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Team NetApp  


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