Tour of Flanders: Mixed results and feelings for Omega Pharma-Quick Step
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tour of Flanders: Mixed results and feelings for Omega Pharma-Quick Step

by Kyle Moore at 7:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Flanders
Boonen explains the crash that will keep him out of Paris-Roubaix

Michael KwiatkowskiOmega Pharma-Quick Step entered the Tour of Flanders as a team full of overall favourites and the strong riders to support them, but having lost one in Tom Boonen before the race was barely underway, the team wasn’t quite able to perform to its high standards. Sylvain Chavanel was the squad’s best finisher in 13th, with Stijn Vandenbergh just behind in 14th.

Michal Kwiatkowski impressed in the breakaway in the second half of the day and eventually finished in the second large group, where Zdenek Stybar was present as well.

Eventual race winner Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) and runner up Peter Sagan (Cannondale) established themselves on the final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. When Cancellara stamped on the gas, Sagan was right in his wheel, and these two were followed immediately by Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling), and then Chavanel.

In spite of looking almost unbeatable in the Three Days of De Panne, the acceleration of Cancellara was too much even for Chavanel.

“When Cancellara and Sagan attacked I was on the wheel of Boasson Hagen," Chavanel stated in a team press release. “Cancellara and Sagan were really strong today, but personally I have no regrets. I think I did a good race, as one of the most watched guys in the race, I couldn't attack from far out. The circuit is also so difficult that it blocked the race. Nobody wants to take the risk to jump before the last lap and I think that in the future things won't change a lot.

“We also lost Tom today. Tom has been unlucky since the beginning of the year, and I feel so sorry for him. I saw all the effort he did to be in shape for this race. Unfortunately crashes are part of the race. Maybe if Tom was there, something could have changed. For Paris-Roubaix, it's different. The cobblestone sections are longer and normally there is more natural selection, so it won't be a blocked race.”

Kwiatkowski continued a strong start to his 2013 season, after finishing 4th in Tirreno-Adriatico earlier in March. As his team-mate Vandenbergh often has in the one-day races this year, Kwiatkowski played a crucial role in the day’s second major breakaway. He eventually dropped back to help Chavanel after Cancellara and Sagan had gone ahead.

“I had good legs today. That was a really hard day for me,” Kwiatkowski admitted. “I did my best to try to stay in the front to help guys in the back so they could stay calm. I'm happy about my day. Unfortunately Tom had a crash in the beginning so that was really bad for us and finally I was able to get in front for the team. I'm still young, so I want to fight everywhere, so that's why I say I had good legs today, and was looking for chances in the breakaway. It was a mistake today that I didn't follow [Jurgen] Roelandts before the Kwaremont because I could stay with him on the bottom probably. But Cancellara and Sagan came and I tried to follow the wheel of Sagan. In the last 50 meters I had tired legs and could not follow. I think I did a good job for the team with my situation today, and that's the most important thing.”

Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders were no doubt forced to modify their tactics, and redouble their efforts, after Boonen crashed early in the race. Race cameras did not capture his crash, only the painful aftermath, so the Belgian explained what happened:

“I was behind Stijn and we were riding on the side of the group. The speed was really high. The peloton swung a bit on the left and we were following, when suddenly I hit a plastic sign on the road. In a moment I was on the ground. I couldn't even breathe at the beginning. I understood immediately that something wasn't good. I had pain especially on the left side of my body. Then I also saw a deep wound on my right knee and I understood that my race was over.”

Boonen did not suffer any fractures, but pain and bruises incurred in the crash at speed will keep him out of Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.

“It's really not an option,” Boonen said of his participation in the Hell of the North. “It's hard to renounce a race like that, but I really can't ride. I have a lot of pain and in the next days, for sure it won't be better. Unfortunately 2013 is not really my year, not my number. I had too many troubles this year, and then this. Now I really have to be careful with my physical problems. The elbow and the hip are really swollen and painful, and the whole left side of my body is sore.”

The classy Belgian was still complimentary of his team and of Cancellara. “It was a nice race and the strongest won," Boonen added. "Everybody was expecting something, but at the end the two strongest guys went away. The team did a good race. It's more painful not to be there if we consider the strong collective race they had. Congratulations to Cancellara.

“Concerning myself, I have time to come back and for sure I will try again next year.”


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