Paris-Brussels: Tom Boonen takes his first ever edition of the historic semi-Classic
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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Paris-Brussels: Tom Boonen takes his first ever edition of the historic semi-Classic

by Ben Atkins at 10:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Belgian champion outsprints Mark Renshaw and Oscar Freire after a long day of breakaways

tom boonen The Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) domination of the 2012 Classics continued in Paris-Brussels as the Belgian champion added the race between the two European capitals to his palmares. Boonen sprinted to victory in the shadow of Brussels’ famous Atomium monument, ahead of Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) - who narrowly missed out on continuing Australia’s domination of the event - with Oscar Freire (Katusha) in third.

“I stayed in the safe zone, out of trouble until the last kilometres," said Boonen afterwards. "After a week of hard training I didn’t know what I could expect from this race. But today we decided to try and go for a win.

“We worked really hard for the sprint in the finale,” he explained. “The guys were great, perfect team work. The finish here at Paris-Brussel is not so easy; the team led me perfectly until the last corner.

“[Nikolas] Maes literally killed everybody during the leadout,” continued the Belgian champion. “His job permitted me to pass the train of Rabobank and have a good sprint. I’m satisfied about my performance, this race was missing in my palmares. It’s an important classic and it’s nice to have it on my personal list.

“In the next days I still have some work to do to improve,” Boonen added. “I will do a few good training days at the beginning of this week and on Wednesday I will race [at the GP Wallonie - ed]. Then I will focus on the TTT Worlds and then on the Worlds Road race. I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks.”

The 216.8km race, between the French town of Soissons - some 100km north east of Paris - and the Belgian capital saw the break of the day come from Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Craig Lewis (Champion System), Andreas Schillinger (NetApp), Georg Preidler (Team Type 1-Sanofi) and Kevin Thome (Wallonie Bruxelles-Crédit Agricole), who attacked in the early kilometres. The five riders were able to get more than five minutes clear but, with Preidler and Bak leaving the others behind with 48km to go, the race was all together with 21km left.

There were several counterattacks in the closing kilometres, including on from Giairo Ermiti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and one from Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun), but the sprinters had the peloton under control and the race was all together as it entered Brussels.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step handed the lead over to Rabobank into the final kilometre, but Boonen was able to follow the lead out trains of rivals Freire and Renshaw, then came around in the closing metres to take his first ever edition of the 119-year-old race. Renshaw looked to have hung on, and was originally awarded third place - and stood on the third step of the podium in the race presentation - until a photo finish ruled that the Australianhad just managed to keep his tyre ahead of Freire's on the line.

Result 2012 Paris-Brussels
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank
3. Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha Team
4. Michael Va Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Jempy Drucker (Lux) Accent.jobs-Willems Verandas
7. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1-Sanofi
8. André Schulze (Ger) Team NetApp
9. Kenny van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Rafael Andriato (Bra) Farnese Vini-Selle Italia

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