Boonen triumphs at Paris-Roubaix

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) rode into the record books with a dominant solo victory at Paris-Roubaix. The 31-year-old Belgian rode the final 52km alone to win by 1:39 over a five-man chase group led across the finish line in the Roubaix velodrome by Sébastien Turgot (Europcar). Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rounded out the podium for third place in a photo-finish with the Frenchman.

With the victory Boonen equals Roger De Vlaeminck's all-time win record of four victories in the Hell of the North, and for the second time in Boonen's career he's claimed the Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double in the same season.

"I was not really thinking about the winning race or doing a record," Boonen said. "I was just fighting myself. I was taking it step by step, cobblestone by cobblestone, kilometer by kilometer. I think if you start thinking about the 60 or 57 km, which is when I left, it's nearly impossible. It is all in your mind. I was really thinking about my lead. With the gap at 30 seconds I was trying to take it second by second. I was trying not to push it right away to one minute, tried not to force myself. It was the best way to save my strength and put all my strength into the 50km in front of me. I think it was the best option.

"The velodrome finish line, it's the only one where you can do two laps where all the people are," continued Boonen. "It's the only finish line where you have one kilometre where you can bond with the people that are there. It's just just such a special race. Paris-Roubaix, only one race like it in the world. A race like this needs a special finish. I think changing this finish line would be very stupid. It's almost more Paris-Roubaix — finishing here — than the cobblestones. I was really enjoying my two laps."

Runner-up Turgot was delighted with the result as he realised that Boonen was out of reach on Easter Sunday. "I don't realise yet how huge the performance is that I achieved," Turgot said. "I did some track and that certainly helped me in the sprint. Boonen was too strong. It was almost a miracle what he did, it was super nice," Turgot said.

A sunny, dry da