Tom Boonen miscalculates complicated sprint to deny himself Omloop victory again
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tom Boonen miscalculates complicated sprint to deny himself Omloop victory again

by Ben Atkins at 1:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
 
Omega Pharma-Quick Step Classics captain positive about form ahead of the big races to come; will go for a third Kuurne victory tomorrow

tom boonenWith his victories in the Tours of San Luis and Qatar showing that he is back to something like his former self, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tom Boonen started today’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with the well-deserved status of red hot favourite. His shoulder to shoulder encounter with Rabobank’s Lars Boom at the foot of the Taaienberg, which saw the Dutch cyclocross specialist tumble onto the cobbles as his wheels left the road, showed that the former Belgian and World champion meant business; and his subsequent acceleration forced the race winning break.

Riding into the finish in the city of Gent, along with Garmin-Barracuda’s as-yet unproven talent Sep Vanmarcke and Team Sky’s anti-sprinter Juan Antonio Flecha, Boonen was virtually everybody’s predicted winner; the complicated straight into the Sint-Pietersplein finish though, was to confound him once again.

"I launched a long sprint because I knew that in the last 200 metres there were two corners where it would have been difficult to pass, but I miscalculated the effort," Boonen admitted afterwards. "At 80 metres from the finish my sprint was over, I had no more power in my legs. I had also a cramp on my right leg.

“It's a pity but I was beaten by a good rider who deserved the victory," he conceded generously.

Once again Boonen has come close, but taken no cigar from a strong performance in the Omloop; despite numerous victories in virtually every other Cobbled Classic, the 31-year-old has still to win the race that opens the Belgian season; he now has two second and one third place in the race.

"Omloop is always a difficult race and even in the past we had few surprises," he said. "In any case, my condition is good.

“On the Taaienberg I attacked and the feeling was really good,” he explained. “I have time to improve leading up to Paris-Nice; the Classics are a long way off yet.

“Even the team was super today,” he Belgian added. “Dries did a great job for me and [Sylvain] Chavanel was great before the Taaienberg. In general the guys were super today."

Chavanel shepherded Boonen to the front of the peloton on the Donderij cobbles, and the complicated, twisting approach to the base of the Taaienberg. The French champion, who was one of the most aggressive riders in this stage of last season, is coming back to fitness after a difficult week.

"It was a good day at the office," Chavanel said. "After Oman I was a little bit sick so I couldn't train as I wanted. During the race I had good feeling, even if it's not yet enough to stay with the top riders. I'm coming up and I'm really looking forward to the next races."

Chavanel was able to stick with the main peloton as it vainly gave chase in the closing kilometres of the race and, along with Boonen’s usual lead out man Gert Steegmans, was able to obstruct its progress a little and help prevent the lead group’s capture.

Arguably Boonen’s most valuable teammate on the day though, was Dries Devenyns, who managed to follow his team leader’s attack on the Taaienberg and was there to help drive the break clear.

“I'm happy about my race,” he said. “I was the only one able to enter in the first group after Tom attacked on the Taaienberg, then I worked for Tom as much as I could. On the Lange Munte cobblestones I wasn't able to follow [when Vanmarcke attacked]. In any case we are happy about our collective performance.”

Boonen will now lead a changed Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in tomorrow’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne; Chavanel will replace a sick Niki Terpstra in the team, and Stijn Vandenbergh will replace Martin Velits, who crashed today. With the race much more suited to sprinters, British neo-pro Andy Fenn, who won two races in the Challenge Mallorca at the beginning of the month, will step in, along with Nikolas Maes and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck; Devenyns and Matteo Trentin are the ones to make way for them.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Gerald Ciolek, Andy Fenn, Nikolas Maes, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, and Stijn Vandenbergh.

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