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Boonen wins 2012 Tour of Flanders

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Pozzato, Boonen and Ballan on the podium

Pozzato, Boonen and Ballan on the podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra, and Filippo Pozzato

Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra, and Filippo Pozzato (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Daniel Oss (Liquigas - Cannondale) drives it out on the Oude Kwaremont

Daniel Oss (Liquigas - Cannondale) drives it out on the Oude Kwaremont (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A view of the Patersberg

A view of the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A unique bike and outfit for this Ronde van Vlaanderen fan

A unique bike and outfit for this Ronde van Vlaanderen fan (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Dries Devenijns (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)

Dries Devenijns (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) leads Jens Keukeleire (GreenEdge) over the cobbles

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) leads Jens Keukeleire (GreenEdge) over the cobbles (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Eventual race winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) on the Eikenberg

Eventual race winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) on the Eikenberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Nissan) on the Eikenberg

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Nissan) on the Eikenberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's) on the Eikenberg

Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's) on the Eikenberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin - Barracuda) ahead of Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin - Barracuda) ahead of Alessandro Ballan (BMC) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had a dig within the final 20kms

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had a dig within the final 20kms (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep), Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep), Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A slight hold up for the Lotto - Belisol team car

A slight hold up for the Lotto - Belisol team car (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) keep an eye on each other

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) keep an eye on each other (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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No escaping the Flandrian flags

No escaping the Flandrian flags (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen on the Patersberg

Edvald Boasson Hagen on the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) on the Patersberg

Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) on the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen gets by with a little help from his friend

Boonen gets by with a little help from his friend (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Flares provided an extra hazard for the peloton to avoid

Flares provided an extra hazard for the peloton to avoid (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert on the Oude Kwaremont

Philippe Gilbert on the Oude Kwaremont (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) on the Patersberg

Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) on the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge) on the Eikenberg

Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge) on the Eikenberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen at the start in Bruges

Tom Boonen at the start in Bruges (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) on the Patersberg

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) on the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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No caption necessary

No caption necessary (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Waiting for the break of the day

Waiting for the break of the day (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) makes a solo bid to catch the leaders

Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) makes a solo bid to catch the leaders (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)

Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The peloton works its way through the Belgian fields

The peloton works its way through the Belgian fields (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia), and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)

Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia), and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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George Hincapie (BMC) on the Oude Kwaremont

George Hincapie (BMC) on the Oude Kwaremont (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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And then there were three...

And then there were three... (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The peloton works its way through the Belgian fields

The peloton works its way through the Belgian fields (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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There was an element missing in the 2012 race for some

There was an element missing in the 2012 race for some (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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Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television

Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Fans by the roadside

Fans by the roadside (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A fan on the Kwaremont kisses a pieve of the famed Muur

A fan on the Kwaremont kisses a pieve of the famed Muur (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television

Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Some Boonen fans

Some Boonen fans (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Fans by the roadside

Fans by the roadside (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Bier time!

Bier time! (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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What's Belgian cycling without Belgian beer?

What's Belgian cycling without Belgian beer? (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Stefanie Clerckx, Eddy Merckx and Zdenek Bakala

Stefanie Clerckx, Eddy Merckx and Zdenek Bakala (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Boonen in action during his 2012 Tour of Flanders win

Boonen in action during his 2012 Tour of Flanders win (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) grits his teeth

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) grits his teeth (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A focused Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)

A focused Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory

Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory

Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory

Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Third place-getter, Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

Third place-getter, Alessandro Ballan (BMC) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Nikki Terpstra feels the pain during a tough Flanders

Nikki Terpstra feels the pain during a tough Flanders (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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No prizes for guessing who these guys were going for

No prizes for guessing who these guys were going for (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert on the Kwaremont

Philippe Gilbert on the Kwaremont (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory

Belgian fans celebrate Tom Boonen's victory (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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Omega Pharma - QuickStep celebrate Tom Boonen's third Tour of Flanders win

Omega Pharma - QuickStep celebrate Tom Boonen's third Tour of Flanders win (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Race fans waiting at the finish

Race fans waiting at the finish (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television

Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television

Wouter Vandenhoutte, Eddy Merckx and Patrick Lefevere watch the action on television (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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There was only so much that Ballan could do at the finish

There was only so much that Ballan could do at the finish (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Garmin-Barracuda's hope Sep Vanmarcke

Garmin-Barracuda's hope Sep Vanmarcke (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) on the Patersberg

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) on the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) was one of Boonen's strongest teammates

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) was one of Boonen's strongest teammates (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)

Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A slight hold up for the Lotto - Belisol team car

A slight hold up for the Lotto - Belisol team car (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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On the way up the Patersberg

On the way up the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia), and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)

Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia), and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) on the Patersberg

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) on the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Omega Pharma - QuickStep's Matteo Trentin

Omega Pharma - QuickStep's Matteo Trentin (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Flares provided an extra hazard for the peloton to avoid

Flares provided an extra hazard for the peloton to avoid (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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BMC's Greg Van Avermaet

BMC's Greg Van Avermaet (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Gert Dockx (Lotto - Belisol) on the Kruisberg

Gert Dockx (Lotto - Belisol) on the Kruisberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Anti-privatisation protesters on the side of the road

Anti-privatisation protesters on the side of the road (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Waiting for the break of the day

Waiting for the break of the day (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Race director, Wim Van Herreweghe

Race director, Wim Van Herreweghe (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Johan Van Summeren (Garmin - Barracuda) fights his way up the Patersberg

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin - Barracuda) fights his way up the Patersberg (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky)

Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Oscar Gatto (Fanese Vini - Selle Italia)

Oscar Gatto (Fanese Vini - Selle Italia) (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Flares provided an extra hazard for the peloton to avoid

Flares provided an extra hazard for the peloton to avoid (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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We'll leave this one to your imagination

We'll leave this one to your imagination (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The leading trio playing their finale game of cat and mouse

The leading trio playing their finale game of cat and mouse (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda)

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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BMC's Thor Hushovd tackles the Paterberg

BMC's Thor Hushovd tackles the Paterberg (Image credit: Sirotti)
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GreenEdge riders at the start of the Tour of Flanders

GreenEdge riders at the start of the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC)

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert finished well down the field

Philippe Gilbert finished well down the field (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire (Katusha)

Oscar Freire (Katusha) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) leads an uphill charge

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) leads an uphill charge (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda)

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Farense Vini-Selle Italia team at the start line

The Farense Vini-Selle Italia team at the start line (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The fans watch the riders in the shadow of a windmill at the Tour of Flanders

The fans watch the riders in the shadow of a windmill at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The spectators can get really close to the action in Flanders

The spectators can get really close to the action in Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder sets off on a new bike after his crash

Devolder sets off on a new bike after his crash (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs-Willens)

Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs-Willens) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Two-time winner Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Two-time winner Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Katusha's Luca Paolini finished in seventh place

Katusha's Luca Paolini finished in seventh place (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) crashes at the 2012 Tour of Flanders

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) crashes at the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Boonen prevails in the sprint to the line

Boonen prevails in the sprint to the line (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on his way to a fifth placed finish

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on his way to a fifth placed finish (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan in the 2012 Tour of Flanders

Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan in the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) climbs the cobbles

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) climbs the cobbles (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Filippo Pozzato salutes the crowd from the podium

Filippo Pozzato salutes the crowd from the podium (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia)

Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton snakes through the lanes of Flanders

The peloton snakes through the lanes of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton enjoyed cool but mainly dry conditions

The peloton enjoyed cool but mainly dry conditions (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The riders pass through many villages at the Tour of Flanders

The riders pass through many villages at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Manuel Belletti climbs the Paterberg

Manuel Belletti climbs the Paterberg (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Manuel Belletti (AG2R-La Mondiale) fared well for the majority of the race but faded into 95th place

Manuel Belletti (AG2R-La Mondiale) fared well for the majority of the race but faded into 95th place (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished tenth

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished tenth (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tom Boonen chasing his great rival Fabian Cancellara (right)

Tom Boonen chasing his great rival Fabian Cancellara (right) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Team Europcar's Thomas Voeckler finished in eighth place

Team Europcar's Thomas Voeckler finished in eighth place (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alan Marangoni (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the start

Alan Marangoni (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the start (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andy Capelle (Accent Jobs-Willems)

Andy Capelle (Accent Jobs-Willems) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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BMC teammates George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan

BMC teammates George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alessandro Ballan, the 2007 winner, finished third at the 2012 Tour of Flanders

Alessandro Ballan, the 2007 winner, finished third at the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Manuel Belletti (AG2R-La Mondiale) at the start

Manuel Belletti (AG2R-La Mondiale) at the start (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) saw his rich vein of form continue in Flanders

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) saw his rich vein of form continue in Flanders (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pozzato climbs the Molenberg on his way to second place

Pozzato climbs the Molenberg on his way to second place (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Gathered at the start in Bruges

Gathered at the start in Bruges (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Winning smile: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

Winning smile: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tom Boonen climbs the Molenberg on his way to a third Tour of Flanders victory

Tom Boonen climbs the Molenberg on his way to a third Tour of Flanders victory (Image credit: Sirotti)
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A jubilant Boonen shortly after edging out Pozzato

A jubilant Boonen shortly after edging out Pozzato (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Boonen celebrates victory

Boonen celebrates victory (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Boonen holds off Pozzato to take the win at the 2012 Tour of Flanders

Boonen holds off Pozzato to take the win at the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) finished second by the narrowest of margins

Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) finished second by the narrowest of margins (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Boonen soaks his adoring home crowd with champagne

Boonen soaks his adoring home crowd with champagne (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen was all smiles after winning his third Tour of Flanders

Tom Boonen was all smiles after winning his third Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A kiss for the local hero

A kiss for the local hero (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rode a strong race to finish in third

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rode a strong race to finish in third (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Pozzato (nearest camera) and Boonen go head-to-head

Pozzato (nearest camera) and Boonen go head-to-head (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Let the celebrations begin

Let the celebrations begin (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton enjoyed passionate support from the crowds throughout the Tour of Flanders

The peloton enjoyed passionate support from the crowds throughout the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The 2012 Tour of Flanders was full of drama

The 2012 Tour of Flanders was full of drama (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (BMC) at the Tour of Flanders

Thor Hushovd (BMC) at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is yet to shine in for his new team

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is yet to shine in for his new team (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen climbing on his way to victory at the 2012 Tour of Flanders

Tom Boonen climbing on his way to victory at the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The riders gather at the start for the 2012 Tour of Flanders

The riders gather at the start for the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Kwaremont provided a stern test

The Kwaremont provided a stern test (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Local favourite Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the 2012 Tour of Flanders on Sunday afternoon, holding off Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) in a three-man sprint to the line to secure his third win in the popular Belgian race. Boonen became the fourth rider in cycling history to win the Tour of Flanders three times.

"I was worried about heading to the finish with those Italians. They know each other well and I feared that they would kill me, but the strong headwind was my ally," said Boonen. "I had to count on my sprint. I started too early and didn't have much left but it was enough."

With his third win in the Tour of Flanders, the Belgian joins Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magnie and Eric Leman as a triple winner of the cycling Monument. "That is fantastic. I never expected that."

The much-anticipated battle between Boonen and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) failed to materialise after the Swiss rider crashed out dramatically with 62km to go. Cancellara broke his collarbone.

"I didn't see it. It's sad because with Fabian it would've been much nicer," Boonen told Sporza.

Boonen, Pozzato and Ballan were left to provide the finale's drama in front of fanatical and generous crowds. The trio made a decisive move by pulling clear with 18km left, and the Belgian prevailed in the end, continuing in the brilliant form that he has sustained so far in 2012.

In the final kilometers, the efforts of the three riders resembled a three-up match sprint on a velodrome as they played cat and mouse games toward the finish.

The two Italians who flanked Boonen on the podium were left disappointed, especially Pozzato who felt that he was the strongest man in the race. "I had the impression that Boonen was tired and that I could beat him but in the last five kilometers he proved the opposite. In the sprint he can build on his explosive skills," Pozzato told Sporza.

Ballan, as the slowest rider of the three in a sprint, tried to get away several times in an effort to repeat his 2007 Tour of Flanders victory. "The finale was tough. On the final ascent of the Paterberg we had a gap on Boonen, and I thought we would head to Oudenaarde with the two of us but he held on," said Ballan. "On the way to the finish, Tom was super. I couldn't wait for the sprint but he kept catching me."

The sprint for fourth place was won by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) ahead of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and the rest of the large first chase group. "The strongest three were ahead. We had Ballan in front, so it wasn't up to me to chase. I'm happy with fourth place," Van Avermaet told Sporza.

Action from the gun

Immediately after leaving Bruges, the breakaway attempts started. On the first wide roads, nobody got away but the altered route through Zerkegem, the town where 1935 Tour de France winner Romain Maes was born 100 years ago, made a difference. After going through Zerkegem's tiny roads, a group of 15 riders representing 14 teams got away.

The group included high-profile riders like sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda), triple Grand Tour stage winner Pablo Lastras Garcia (Movistar) and several breakaway specialists like David Boucher (FDJ-Big Mat), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol). The other names in the group were Manuel Belletti (AG2R La Mondiale), Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Baptiste Planckaert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Massimo Graziato (Lampre-ISD), Vladimir Isaichev (Katusha) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano). NetApp was represented by two riders: Daniel Schorn and Andreas Schillinger.

Despite the efforts from the Omega Pharma - Quick Step team on behalf of top favorite Boonen, the 15 leaders gained time on the peloton. Boonen's men switched the pace up a notch without going full gas and as they approached the first pavé sections near Kruishoutem after 85km of racing, the leaders' gap was up to nearly six minutes.

The Garmin-Barracuda team moved to the front at the cobbles of the Huisepontweg and Doorn, later joined by the GreenEdge team and others, who brought the gap down to 5:30 as they passed through the finish town Oudenaarde after 100km of racing.

At the third climb of the day, the Molenberg, Cancellara flatted and the peloton split up with six riders setting up a counter-attack. A six-man chase group trailed the lead group by four minutes and included Matthew Hayman (Sky), Tomas Vaitkus (GreenEdge), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Aliaksandr Kyuschinski (Katusha), Alexandre Pichot (Europacar) and Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM). Boonen wouldn't let them get away and they were caught before they hit the next climb, the Rekelberg.

Due to more accelerations from Hayman, Björn Leukemans, Thor Hushovd, Johan Vansummeren, Stijn Vandenbergh and Daniele Bennati, the gap dropped further to just three minutes as the leaders rode over the Berendries and the Valkenberg. When they started on the first of the loops with the dual ascents of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, the speed went up another notch although there were no specific attacks in the peloton.

The Koppenberg awaited the riders. In front, only nine men survived it, and they finished off the tough cobbled climb with a gap of two minutes on the peloton. At the feed zone after the Koppenberg - 64km from the finish - bad luck struck Cancellara. The 2010 winner and favorite coming into this edition somehow hit the deck and didn't get back up after he fractured his collarbone in three places.

A large peloton entered Ronse for the first time and powered towards the Kruisberg/Hontond at less than a minute from the leaders. On the Kruisberg, there was an acceleration from Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC). Several men followed the Belgian champion, but a little later they were caught by the peloton while at about the same time, the leaders were also caught. Only David Boucher managed to sneak away just before the regrouping in front. On the descent towards Kluisbergen, there was a high-speed crash in which Sebastiaan Langeveld (GreenEdge) collided with a startled spectator after he tried to move up in the peloton by taking the bike lane to the far right of the road. It appeared as if Langeveld hurt his collarbone or shoulder and he had to abandon.

At the foot of the Oude Kwaremont, upon starting the second loop, Boucher was also caught, bringing the peloton all together. Vanmarcke led on the first stretches of the Kwaremont until Chavanel accelerated. The pace from the French champion caused damage in the peloton and on the following section towards the Paterberg, he didn't look back.

A definitive split

About 25 riders survived this selection, although Flecha, Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Vincent Jérôme (Europcar) anticipated the next steep hill at 34km from the finish. In the sharp corner coming into the Paterberg, there was a crash in the main group, taking down men like Vansummeren and hindering outsiders like Matti Breschel and Peter Sagan. The latter recovered soon and bridged back up with the group of leaders featuring Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Chavanel, Pozzato, Ballan, Vanmarcke, Jérôme, Paolini and Maxim Iglinsky (Astana).

Ballan then applied pressure and seemed to ride away easiliy off the front with 18km to go. Not happy with this development, Boonen and Pozzato bridge up to him. This was the racing-winning split.

The tactical games with the three men started in the final kilometers. Ballan launched a few attacks that Boonen closed each time, and when the Italian former world champion went for the last time, Boonen blasted around him toward the finish line. Pozzato tried to charge up and overtake Boonen, but was not strong enough to over take the Belgian favorite, who won his third Tour of Flanders.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep6:04:33
2Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
3Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:01
4Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:38
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
6Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
7Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
8Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
9Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team
10Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
11Grégory Rast (Swi) Radioshack-Nissan
12Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team
13Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
14Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
15Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
16Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
17Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team
18Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank
19Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
20Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling
21Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan
22Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
23Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
24Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan
25Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team
26Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar
27Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
28Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
29Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
30Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda
31Jens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team
32Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
33Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
34Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD
35Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet
36Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
37Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
38Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
39Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
40Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
41Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
42Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
43Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
44Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
45Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
46Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
47Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank0:00:48
48Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda
49Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda0:01:06
50Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:18
51Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:03:26
52George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
53Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
54Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling
55Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
56Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
57Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
58Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling
59John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano
60Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
61Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:04:43
62Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
63Andy Cappelle (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
64Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - Barracuda
65Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
66Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
67Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
68Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD
69Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team
70Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
71Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Team NetApp
72David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
73Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
74Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar
75Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
76Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
77Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale
78Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
79Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling
80Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
81Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
82Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack-Nissan
83Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin - Barracuda
84Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Argos-Shimano
85Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) GreenEdge Cycling Team
86David Boucher (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
87Baptiste Plackaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
88Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team0:15:34
89Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
90Peio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
91Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team
92Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
93Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
94Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
95Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
96Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
97Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
98Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team
99Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
100Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
101Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank
102Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
103Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank
104Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat
DNFKasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
DNFMichael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
DNFMatteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
DNFKenny De Haes (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
DNFJonas Vangenechten (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
DNFFrederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNFChristopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
DNFGregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFRomain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFSteve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team
DNFBaden Cooke (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team
DNFStuart O'grady (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge Cycling Team
DNFMatthew Wilson (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFValentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFPierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNFRicardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNFMiguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNFAlan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNFAdrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNFPablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
DNFAnthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
DNFAlexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team
DNFDaniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNFVitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNFYuriy Krivtsov (Fra) Lampre - ISD
DNFDavide Vigano (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNFMauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNFKristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team
DNFJosé Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNFMaarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNFMartijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Barracuda
DNFFabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
DNFMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNFStijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNFSven Vandousselaere (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNFFrédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNFKoen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNFKurt Hovelynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNFJonathan Breyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNFArnoud Van Groen (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
DNFStefan Van Dijk (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
DNFRob Goris (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's
DNFLuca Ascani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
DNFPier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
DNFLuca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Argos-Shimano
DNFTom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano
DNFTom Veelers (Ned) Argos-Shimano
DNFDominic Klemme (Ger) Argos-Shimano
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano
DNFRonan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Argos-Shimano
DNFSébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFCyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) Team NetApp
DNFDaniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp
DNFBlaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp
DNFAndré Schulze (Ger) Team NetApp
DNFTimon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Team NetApp

 

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