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Boonen sprints to victory

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) silenced his critics on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem by winning the sprint ahead of Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) and Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Cervelo) and show that he is on form just a week before the Tour of Flanders.

Gent-Wevelgem is known as the sprinters’ classic but in recent years the breakaways had held off the chasers to steal victory. This year was close, with attacks holding out until sight of the line but despite mechanical problems early in the race, Boonen showed he is still fast in a sprint.

“This race used to be a big goal for me each season but then year after year I focused more and more on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. But I’m proud to have won it because it wasn’t an easy day for me.” Boonen explained.

“It seemed that everything was going wrong before it went right. I had a mechanical problem at the foot of the first climb and that forced me to wait a long time to get service. It was definitely more than a minute.”

“It’s true that I’d have preferred to ride the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke but my team wanted me to ride here. I under stand the reasons and know that the team’s interests are more important than mine. Thanks to this success our team has scored some important ranking points.”

“Fabian won on Saturday and is in great shape but I’ve won today and my form is getting better and better after being illness slowed me before Milan-San Remo. I’m ready for the Tour of Flanders.”

The early action

The skies were overcast and the air chilly in Deinze before the start of the race, but with little wind on the menu, there was no shortage of riders trying to leaving the safety of the peloton. Consequently, the opening section on the flat roads towards the coast was run off at a breakneck pace, with the bunch covering a shade under 52km in the first hour of racing.

The elastic finally snapped soon afterwards, when French champion Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) sparked a move and dragged away Bram Schmitz (Veranda's Willems – Accent), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator) and Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) with him for company. After the break reached its maximum lead of five minutes after 70km, the redoubtable Voeckler took matters in hand to ensure they stayed out there by going to the front and driving the group.

With the race passing into France twice to hit the climb of the Catsberg, Voeckler was certainly not short on motivation, but he soon demonstrated that his escape was by no means a mere exercise in showing off the jersey, and he surged to the head of the group as soon as the road went upwards. That immediately put Schmitz and Timmer in trouble and they were dropped on the second ascent of the Catsberg (154km), as the gap to the peloton slipped down to 2:20.

Behind, there was a moment of panic for Tom Boonen (Quick Step) when he suffered a mechanical problem on the climb and after a long delay he was forced to chase back on in the company of Kevin Van Impe. Like Fabian Cancellara at the previous day’s E3 Prijs, Boonen made it safely back to the peloton but the Belgian used up a lot of valuable energy in his pursuit. Yet it also seemed to be a source of extra motivation.

The next man to suffer misfortune was Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), when he punctured at the foot of the Kemmelberg, just as Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) hit the front of the climb. The Belgian’s brief show of forcing sent ripples through the peloton, and that reshuffling of the pack would ultimately contribute to sparking a short-lived but dangerous move.

After the next climb of the Monteberg, George Hincapie (Team BMC), Matt Hayman (Team Sky), Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank) and Geoffroy Lequatre (RadioShack) managed to forge clear of the bunch, and they were soon joined by the in-form Gilbert, Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo), Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), Jelle Wallays (Topsport-Vlaanderen) and Gert Steegmans (Quick Step).

A break featuring Gilbert and Hushovd was never going to be allowed to simply ride away, however, and they were soon reeled back in once Rabobank and Saxo Bank got themselves organised behind, and the pace ratcheted up in the bunch as it approached the decisive second ascent of the Kemmelberg with 41km to go.

Sagan lights up the finale

The cobbled climb is often the key to Gent-Wevelgem and Thomas Voeckler managed to rid himself of his remaining breakaway companions and crest the summit alone. But the peloton was now just 40 seconds behind and closing at pace. In the main group, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) showed his hand on the Kemmelberg with a brief burst that was closely watched by Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky). His effort was enough to force another brief selection over the summit of the climb, with Hushovd, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) among those keeping tabs on the young Slovak.

Once Voeckler was swallowed up after the fast descent of the Kemmelberg, there was a brief regrouping behind but then Sagan jumped again ahead of the final climb of the Monteberg, with 35km to go. This time he was joined by his teammate Maciej Bodnar, Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). The quartet soon opened a 30 second lead thanks to some smooth collaboration.

Gilbert made an abortive attempt to bridge alone but then the large group behind finally began to organise itself with HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Lotto sharing the load. HTC were riding for Cavendish who had got back after his mechanical. Thomas Voeckler was also lending a hand, but with Sagan and Chavanel driving hard up front, the gap grew to 42 seconds with 26km to go.

Cavendish crashes out of contention

While Sagan and company were continuing their move off the front of the bunch, disaster struck one of the other pre-race favourites, when Cavendish crashed at the rear of the bunch. The Manxman couldn’t hide his frustration at missing out on the chance at a classic win in such banal circumstances, and even though he began to chase alone, he must have known that his race was over.

The crash split the front group and gave the four attackers extra hope of success. However while Cavendish lost any chance of victory, Gilbert became more convinced of his chances as did BMC, who also worked hard to pull the quartet back.

The long straight roads of the finale to Wevelgem allowed the chasers to see the four riders up the road and the race turned into a pursuit match.

The gap fell second by second but the kilometres were also down to single figures and the race could have gone either way. With five kilometres to go the gap was down to single figures and Bodnar sat up after giving his all to help teammate Sagan. The prodigious Slovakian rider would have been favourite for the sprint but the now 30-strong bunch was closing on them.

Stannard knew it was better to risk it all than sit back and be swept up. He jumped away with two kilometres to go and dropped Sagan and Chavanel. As he speeded under the one kilometre to go banner, it looked like he could do it. But then the long straight road to the finish seemed to drain his legs. Suddenly the sprinters were on him and swamped him with just 150 metres to go.

Farrar opened up the sprint but Boonen had a better lead out from Steegmans and timed his acceleration better. He hit the front and held his speed all the way to the line.

He had admitted he no longer loved bunch sprints but he loved winning Gent-Wevelgem. Suddenly his season was back on track. Quick Step would no longer be last in the UCI ranking and Boonen had responded to Fabian Cancellara. Bring on the Tour of Flanders.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team4:35:00
2Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek
3Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
4André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
5Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano
7Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad
8Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
9Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
10Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard
11Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ
12Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
13Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
14Tiziano Dall'antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
15Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
16Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar
17Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ
18Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
19Robert Hunter (RSA) Team RadioShack
20Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano
21Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad
22Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
23Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
24Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team
25Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale
26Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
27Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - ISD
28Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
29Grégory Rast (Swi) Team RadioShack
30George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
31Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
32Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
33Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling
34Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
35Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
36Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:00:09
37Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team RadioShack
38Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard
39Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard
40Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
41Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
42Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar0:00:14
43Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:16
44Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:20
45Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
46Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
47Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:23
48Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
49Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:28
50Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:00:44
51Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team0:00:55
52Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
53Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:02:42
54Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
55Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
56Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent0:03:15
57Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:03:17
58Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team0:03:18
59Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
60Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
61Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
62Saïd Haddou (Fra) Team Europcar
63Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Team RadioShack
64Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha Team
65Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
66Allan Davis (Aus) Pro Team Astana
67Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
68Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
69Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
70Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
71Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
72Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
73Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
74Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD
75Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team RadioShack
76Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
77Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
78Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet
79Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team Astana
80Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShack
81Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team
82Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
83Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
84Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard0:11:28
85Michael Morkov (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
86Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team
87Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
88Matti Helminen (Fin) Landbouwkrediet
89Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
90Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto
91Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
92Yann Huguet (Fra) Skil - Shimano
93Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
94Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
95Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
96Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr) Lampre - ISD
97Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team
98Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
99Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha Team
100Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
101Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
102Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team
103Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team
104Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
105Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD
106Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
107Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
108Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
109Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
110John Murphy (USA) BMC Racing Team
111Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana
112Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ
113Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
114Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
115Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Procycling
116Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
117Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team RadioShack
118Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack
119Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
120Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
121Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling
122Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard
123Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
124Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
125Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling
126Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar
127Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ
128Carlos Oyarzun (Chi) Movistar Team
129Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ
130Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
131Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
132Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar
133José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Movistar Team
134Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team
135Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team0:16:30
136Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team
137Adam Hansen (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto
138Danny Pate (USA) HTC-Highroad
139Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
140Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
141Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
142Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo
143Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
144Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
145Steven Caethoven (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
146Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
147Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
148Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team
149Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano
150Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Skil - Shimano
151Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo
152Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
153Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
154Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
155Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
156Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
157Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale
158Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet
159Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad
DNFAlex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-Highroad
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad
DNFAdam Blyth (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNFJurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNFDominic Klemme (Ger) Leopard Trek
DNFStuart O'grady (Aus) Leopard Trek
DNFJoost Posthuma (Ned) Leopard Trek
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Leopard Trek
DNFMartin Mortensen (Den) Leopard Trek
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) Leopard Trek
DNFWouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNFAssan Bazayev (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
DNFMaxim Gourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
DNFSimon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana
DNFMirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Pro Team Astana
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNFVladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team
DNFSébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFVitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD
DNFVitaliy Kondrut (Ukr) Lampre - ISD
DNFBalint Szeghalmi (Hun) Lampre - ISD
DNFBobbie Traksel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet
DNFSébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNFRob Goris (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNFBram Schmitz (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNFOlivier Bonnaire (Fra) FDJ
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Skil - Shimano
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Skil - Shimano
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
DNSAliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team

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