Paris-Roubaix: Tom Boonen upset with Juan Antonio Flecha and Thor Hushovd
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paris-Roubaix: Boonen upset with Pozzato, Flecha and Hushovd

by VeloNation Press at 2:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix

Tom BoonenThree-time Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Bonnen had a chance to equal Roger de Vlaeminck's record of four wins in the race today, until Fabian Cancellara went on the attack with 50 kilometers remaining in the race.  Boonen, who has won the past two editions, was at the wrong place at the wrong time when the powerful Swiss rider made his big move.

"I had just done some attacks of my own and was sitting at the back of the group trying to feed and keeping a check on the riders behind us," Boonen told AFP after the race.

"And then Cancellara just went. But you can't argue with that. I would probably have done the same thing.

"I'm obviously disappointed. But if Cancellara attacks and I can't follow him, that's fair enough.

The two riders went toe-to-toe in last week's Tour of Flanders, with Cancellara simply riding away from the Belgian on Muur van Geraardsbergen on its steepest section.  Boonen was forced to chase Saxo Bank's time trial world champion alone, in what turned out to be an impossible task.

“I was not bad today," he said after Flanders.  "But when he [Cancellara] accelerated, I tried to follow and it felt like I had cramps in my legs. He took 100 metres and that was it. I had nothing, no indication, to predict that would happen. I was riding at 55 kilometers per hour yet he finished a minute ahead…what can I say? He was stronger. If he gets a few meters, you won’t see him again. I could only hope to beat him in a sprint.”

A week later and Paris-Roubaix was Déjà vu all over again for the Belgian champion, with the Swiss champion powering away on the cobblestones.  This time though, Boonen had company with whom he wasn't too impressed.

"But I'm angry with the other guys. At no time did any of them try to race and some of them, including [Juan Antonio] Flecha, had already resigned themselves to racing for second.

"I'm more angry that I didn't get the opportunity to properly defend my chances."

Patrick LefevereThe other big engines in the group included the riders that flanked Boonen on last year's podium, Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam).  Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere agreed that a concerted effort by the group could have brought Cancellara back into the fold.

"I don't think Tom ever thought the race was over then," said Lefevere.

"Even with a great Fabian Cancellara, it should have been possible to organize a chase given the quality in that group."

Hushovd confirmed Boonen's observations: "I think when Cancellara went everyone understood pretty quickly that we wouldn't be catching him."

Quick Step sports director Wilfried Peeters also had a feeling that Cancellara's move might be game over: "When I saw Cancellara's initial acceleration I feared then it would be decisive."

Now the Belgian team will have to answer to their fans after owning Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders for the past two years.  In fact, the Belgians as a whole have been blanked in the coveted cobbled Spring Classics this year, and will now look to pick up the pieces for next season.

"But we can't go looking for excuses," explained Peeters.  "Paris-Roubaix is a man to man battle, and Cancellara was the better man on the day, although Tom wasn't helped by the fact that no one in his group wanted to really chase.

"But we can't be disappointed. Tom's had two runner-up places [Milan-SanRemo, Tour of Flanders] and a fifth here this season, and we've won this race a lot in the past."


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