By Shane Stokes in Madrid
On the last lap, Irish rider Mark Scanlon was riding strongly in the second group alongside pre-race favourites such as Alessandro Petacchi (Italy) and Robbie McEwen (Australia). This group ended up sprinting for 28th place, some 25 seconds behind Boonen, however the former world junior champion had to ease back with three kilometres to go due to an attack of cramp.
Scanlon was disappointed at the finish, telling Cyclingnews "I was in the bunch behind Boonen's group but at the big roundabout near the finish, I had to stop because I cramped. I had felt alright in the race, but I started cramping with about a lap to go. I knew that it was either going to pass or I would have to take the legs out of the pedals and straighten it out. Unfortunately that is what happened.
"I think the heat was probably the problem. Last week, I was racing in the Tour de la Somme and it was 17 degrees and raining. It is hard to adapt when you go from that to 30 degrees, especially after just an hour and a half training in it yesterday. I should have been in that group sprinting for 28th, so I'm a bit disappointed."
Scanlon can nevertheless take encouragement from what was a good ride today. He has shown improving form in recent weeks after a difficult, injury and illness affected season. Fellow Irishmen David McCann and David O'Loughlin were among the 58 non-finishers.
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