Boonen returns to tricolor jersey

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

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

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