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Belgian drought continues in Sanremo

Tom Boonen (Quick Step)

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) (Image credit: AFP)

Not since Andrei Tchmil in 1999 has a Belgian triumphed in Milano-Sanremo, and before that one must rewind all the way back to 1981 and Alfons DeWolf to find the next Belgian winner. That drought continued today as neither Tom Boonen (Quick Step) nor the in-form Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) were able to bring home the victory. After struggling on the Poggio, Boonen never figured in the finale although Gilbert fared much better, sprinting home with a select group for third place behind Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

"I was not super today, but well motivated," Gilbert told Belgian TV station Sporza. "It was always a headwind and therefore I waited until the last moment. I have given everything, but perhaps I waited too long. I was better here last year and also in the Omloop Het Volk I felt better, yet I've never done better in Milano-Sanremo."

Boonen's challenge was undone on the Poggio, when the 2005 world champion was unable to follow the high pace of the leaders. "I went out to win," said Boonen. "But just when we came to the Poggio, I tried to jump but just couldn't go."

Boonen's team-mate Paolo Bettini had already tried his luck on the previous climb of Cipressa, but was brought back on the run in to the Poggio. "That had been arranged," said Boonen. "I focused on the sprint with [Matteo] Tossato and Bettini would attack so that we did not have to ride."

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