Boonen reasserts in Franco-Belge
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Boonen reasserts in Franco-Belge

by Ben Atkins at 11:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) reasserted himself as one of the peloton’s top sprinters with victory in stage 3 of the Circuit Franco-Belge between Antoing and Ichtegem, Belgium. The former World champion took first place from a breakaway group that included race leader Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), who had won both the preceding stages. Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam) took second place behind Boonen, with Farrar third. The peloton followed the break home just six seconds behind.

In the first half of the stage a group of four, consisting of Steven De Jongh (Quick Step), Klaas Lodewyck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Rick Flens (Rabobank) and Olivier Kaisen (Silence-Lotto) escaped the peloton, forcing Farrar’s Garmin-Slipstream team to chase. As they were pulled back in the closing kilometres a group of six riders jumped clear consisting of: Juan Antonio Flecha and Tom Stamsnijder (both Rabobank), Frédéric Guesdon (la Française des Jeux), Assan Bazayev (Astana), Roger Hammond Tyler Farrar. They were soon joined Tom Boonen, Mathew Hayman (Hayman) and Stefan van Dijk (Verandas Willems).

The group managed to stay clear to the finish, despite the peloton’s best efforts, as most of the big teams present.

"It was a very nice stage,” explained Boonen, “that the wind made even more difficult. In the final with about 20 kilometres to go to there was a decisive breakaway with some of the best athletes in the group. At about 200 metres from the finish line there was a curve to the right. I came out very fast and managed to gain more speed compared to my adversaries in the sprint. There was a lot of head wind and no one was able to get past me. Today was like riding in a little Northern classic."

"The team rode extremely well with a knife in the teeth,” said Quick Step director Rik Verbrugghe. “We were always present in the first part of the group. Only [Dries] Devenyns who got a flat in a crucial phase of the race didn't come out ahead. [Steve] De Jongh's action entering the circuit was a good tactical move. He forced Garmin to work to close the almost 3 minute gap and in the final Farrar was isolated. This was a great team race crowned by Tom's smarts."

Despite losing out to the Belgian champion, Farrar retains his lead in both the overall and points classifications. He takes a ten second margin over Boonen into tomorrow’s final stage between Mons and Tournai, Belgium.

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