Boonen picked wrong wheel to follow
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Boonen picked wrong wheel to follow

by Conal Andrews at 6:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Paris-Tours

Second place in Paris-Tour is a case of ‘so near, yet so far’ for Tom Boonen. The former world champion has had a difficult season, with his win in Paris-Roubaix being followed by another positive case for cocaine and an utterly anonymous Tour de France. Finishing on the top step of the podium would have seen him head into the off-season on the right note, but fluffing his tactics at the finish cost him a possible victory.

Instead of marking defending champion Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto), Boonen chose to follow the wheel of Vancansoleil’s Borut Bozic. "I should have won but I picked the wrong opponent,” L’Equipe reported him as saying. “In arriving in a group of three, it is rare that a rider would crack as Bozic did. But I can do nothing [now], that’s racing!”

Rather than wait for a bunch sprint as might have been expected, Boonen rode very aggressively in the finale. He was quick to mark the break-forming move of Gilbert’s team-mate Greg Van Avermaet, and helped drive the break towards the line.

He suggested afterwards that the defending champion’s presence was something which made it likely they would stay away. "I enjoy spending time in the final with Gilbert. He’s a rider who makes the race, someone that you can count upon [to do his share],” he said. “He worked well until the finish.”

Boonen is likely to finish his season at this point, but Gilbert has two more targets. “Piemont and Lombardy remain for me,” the increasingly confident Silence-Lotto rider said. “I’ll go there with plenty of ambitions.”


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