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Boonen returns to tricolor jersey

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Tom Boonen celebrates his win in Geel

Tom Boonen celebrates his win in Geel (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Riders were dropping back to the team cars for advice, as there were no radios allowed

Riders were dropping back to the team cars for advice, as there were no radios allowed (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen pushes the pace

Boonen pushes the pace (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen splitting up the breakaway

Boonen splitting up the breakaway (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC)

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Mechanical assistance for Gilbert

Mechanical assistance for Gilbert (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert showed some of last year's spark with a late attack, but couldn't finish it off

Philippe Gilbert showed some of last year's spark with a late attack, but couldn't finish it off (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen thanks his teammates for their work

Boonen thanks his teammates for their work (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) back in the Belgian champ's jersey

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) back in the Belgian champ's jersey (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) celebrates his victory in the Belgian championships

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) celebrates his victory in the Belgian championships (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen signs some autographs after winning in Geel

Boonen signs some autographs after winning in Geel (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale) on the podium after finishing 2nd behind Tom Boonen at the 2012 Belgian road championship

Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale) on the podium after finishing 2nd behind Tom Boonen at the 2012 Belgian road championship (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen was elated to win in Geel

Boonen was elated to win in Geel (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen in his national champion's jersey

Tom Boonen in his national champion's jersey (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Gilbert pushes the pace

Gilbert pushes the pace (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen drove a group to catch the breakaway, then split that group

Boonen drove a group to catch the breakaway, then split that group (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen took the race in his own hands

Boonen took the race in his own hands (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen consults with Quickstep director Wilfried Peeters

Boonen consults with Quickstep director Wilfried Peeters (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen drives the breakaway

Tom Boonen drives the breakaway (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert gets some advice from the BMC team car

Philippe Gilbert gets some advice from the BMC team car (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Cyclo-crosser Sven Nys was stranded with a flat

Cyclo-crosser Sven Nys was stranded with a flat (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb)

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen takes it all in after winning his national title

Boonen takes it all in after winning his national title (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Rich applause for Tom Boonen from his home crowd at the Tour of Flanders

Rich applause for Tom Boonen from his home crowd at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen had a flat early on, but no worries, he still went on to win the Belgian championship

Boonen had a flat early on, but no worries, he still went on to win the Belgian championship (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen's mechanic gets wet changing the wheel

Tom Boonen's mechanic gets wet changing the wheel (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The breakaway Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Staf Schierlinkcx (Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas), Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Maarten Wynants (Rabobank)

The breakaway Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Staf Schierlinkcx (Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas), Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Maarten Wynants (Rabobank) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda)

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) gets a push after a wheel change

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) gets a push after a wheel change (Image credit: Photopress.be)

With his second Belgian title Tom Boonen kicked off his second part of the season with a bang. His win at the Belgian championships follows after a unique quadruple in the spring classics.

Boonen lives a stone's throw away from the 15km long course in Geel which turned into floodplain due to heavy rain showers in the first half of the race. The race was decided by a move from Boonen at 40km from the finish line, exploiting a mechanical from co-favorite Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol). Together with teammate Julien Vermote and four others he managed to keep the peloton and defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) at distance. While the sun started glimpsing through the clouds in Geel the sprint was a formality. Boonen easily won ahead of Kristof Goddaert (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator). The 31 year-old was delighted with his tenth victory of the season.

"It was a very nice day but I was quite nervous. It took a lot of effort to get away. Vermote struggled hard to join the breakaway as well but he managed to recover. Together with the headwind he was crucial to control the others in the final lap," Boonen said to Sporza.

"My hands were cramped in the final kilometer and I almost messed it up. I shifted with 200m to go but dropped my chain. Luckily nobody noticed it. There still a lot of work to do but I'm on schedule [for the Olympics]. Now it's a matter of recovering well for the final training block ahead of the Olympics," Boonen said.

Runner-up Goddaert wasn't disappointed with his sprint defeat against Boonen. "I didn't expect this result before the race but I think it's deserved because I made the race as well. Three years ago I came third at a young age and then I figured I could become Belgian champion one day. Now I'm second so hopefully in three years I can win," Goddaert said. "It's not a disgrace to come second behind Boonen. Early on I struggled big time to keep up in the breakaway attempt because it was a hard transition to move out of the wheels into the wind at such a level."

With 253km on tap and stormy weather overhead, the Belgian championships would always be one for the hard men. The day's first breakaway got away on the second lap, and included Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Staf Schierlinkcx (Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas), Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Maarten Wynants (Rabobank).

Laurent Evrard (Wallonie Bruxelles-Crédit Agricole) tried to go across, but only wound up riding in between the two groups for more than two hours.

The day was fraught with crashes and flat tires, but the length of the race meant there was plenty of time to regain the race for riders like Boonen and Devolder. The six leaders held a lead of almost five minutes before the peloton began to react in earnest with 60km to go.

It wasn't until Boonen took matters in his own hands inside the 30km mark that the nail was finally put into the breakaway's coffin, although rather than bringing the peloton to the break, Boonen broke away with a small group of riders and reached his teammate Maes ahead.

With him was his teammate Julien Vermote, Boonen bridged up to Jan Bakelandts (RadioShack-Nissan) and Gorik Gardeyn (Champion System) together with Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator).

They joined the front group with two laps to go, but with a lack of cooperation, Boonen attacked and split the group, leaving behind the early escapees and Gardeyn, leaving a new breakaway of five with 20km to go.

The efforts in the peloton closed the gap to under 30 seconds when defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) followed Boonen's example and took the race into his own hands with 10km remaining. He worked hard but only managed to gain 12 seconds on the field while the leaders kept a hold on a 20 second advantage.

The sun finally broke out of the clouds with 4km left in the race, and Gilbert was not making up ground on the leaders, and the peloton was right behind.

A lack of cooperation in the field gave the leaders an advantage, despite a lively attack by a Topsport Vlaanderen rider, who counter-attacked as Gilbert was caught.

Six hours in, the sprint finally came down to the five intrepid riders, and with teammate Vermote as a lead-out Boonen easily dusted his competitors to take back the Belgian title.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)5:59:07
2Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale)
3Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
4Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Nissan)0:00:02
5Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)0:00:04
6Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)0:00:11
7Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)0:00:16
8Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
9Niko Eeckhout (An Post - Sean Kelly)
10Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
11Michael Van Staeyen (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
12Bert De Backer (Argos-Shimano)
13Maxime Vantomme (Katusha Team)
14Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge)
15Nico Sijmens (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)
16Baptiste Plackaert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
17Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol Team)
18Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
19Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
20Kurt Hovelynck (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
21Kevin Peeters (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
22Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)
23Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
24Sjef De Wilde (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)
25Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
26Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
27Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team)
28Jim Aernouts (Sunweb - Revor)
29Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)
30Davy Commeyne (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
31Ben Hermans (Radioshack-Nissan)
32Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
33Jurgen Van Goolen (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)
34Sven Jodts (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
35Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
36Klaas Lodewyck (BMC Racing Team)
37Romain Zingle (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne)
38Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
39Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
40Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
41Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
42Koen Barbe (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
43Kevin Hulsmans (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
44Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda)
45Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
46Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
47Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
48Nick Nuyens (Team Saxo Bank)
49Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
50Kevin Seeldraeyers (Pro Team Astana)
51Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
52Steven Caethoven (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)0:00:32
53Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Barracuda)
54Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)0:00:39
55Kenny De Haes (Lotto Belisol Team)0:01:18
56James Vanlandschoot (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)0:04:09
57Staf Scheirlinckx (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's)0:04:58
58Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
59Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol Team)
60Jonas Vangenechten (Lotto Belisol Team)
61Fabio Polazzi (Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole)
62Joeri Stallaert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)
63Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
64Maarten Wynants (Rabobank Cycling Team)
65Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Belisol Team)
66Frederique Robert (Lotto Belisol Team)
67Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol Team)
68Jérôme Baugnies (Team NetApp)
69Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
70Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
71Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
72Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
73Gorik Gardeyn (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
74Jens Debusschere (Lotto Belisol Team)
75Vincent Baestaens (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony)

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