Tom Boonen’s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 is fitted with SRAM’s new Red group, Zipp 303 carbon tubulars and cockpit components, FMB tubular tires, and Look KéO Blade pedals. (James Huang/

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick
Step) conquered his demons for a third win at the Tour of Flanders and a huge
boost in his confidence heading into next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix.

We profiled Boonen’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 just recently so we won’t repeat ourselves here but
it’s still worth noting that this now marks the fifth win in a row at Flanders
for the big ‘S’ and the first for SRAM’s new Red group.

Just behind was Filippo Pozzato in second – his best finish yet –
aboard MCipollini’s  radical RB1000
machine while Alessandro Ballan rode his TeamMachine BMC SLR01 to complete the

Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team bikes weren’t all neon yellow. Several (including that of Filippo Pozzato) were a more sedate black.

New gear was seemingly sparse in the pits this year but we still
spotted some new carbon tubular wheels from Shimano. Measuring roughly 50mm in
depth, the new wheels mark a new design direction for Shimano with their
wide-section rims and distinctly rounder profile than in years past. We’d heard
rumblings that Shimano is making a serious push toward improving wheel
aerodynamics and this looks to be the first step.

Hubs look to have improved, too, with wider flange spacing front and
rear for improved side-to-side stiffness and straight-pull spokes that are more
easily accessed if one needs replacing. Also carrying over is Shimano’s indexed
cup-and-cone adjustable bearing system.

We’re not terribly excited about the hidden nipples, though. While they
certainly require a smaller rim hole – thus minimizing any reduction in
strength due to drilling – it’ll still make for a rough time in case the wheel
needs to be trued.

The rims on Shimano’s new carbon tubular wheelset are notably wide with a signficantly more rounded profile than before.

Enjoy this gallery from the start of this year’s Tour of Flanders
but rest assured this is only half of the bunch – the rest will come tomorrow.

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