Boonen’s imperious form continued in the ‘Hell of the North’ (AFP/Getty Images)
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) rode into the record books with a dominant solo victory at Paris-Roubaix. The 31-year-old Belgian rode the final 52km alone to win by 1:39 over a five-man chase group led across the finish line in the Roubaix velodrome by Sébastien Turgot (Europcar). Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rounded out the podium for third place in a photo-finish with the Frenchman.
With the victory Boonen equals Roger De Vlaeminck’s all-time win record of four victories in the Hell of the North, and for the second time in Boonen’s career he’s claimed the Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double in the same season.
A sunny, dry day for Paris-Roubaix
Right after rolling out of sunny Compiègne the attacks came thick and fast as riders sought to make the early escape. A huge group of 25 rider wasn’t allowed much distance as the peloton kept riding at high speed. Finally, after 70km of fast-paced, aggressive racing, a group of 12 riders rolled off the front and the peloton let them go. The group consisted of Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Nissan), Kenny De Haes (Lotto-Belisol), Frederik Veuchelen and Bert Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM). David Boucher (FDJ-Big Mat). Michael Morkov (Team Saxo Bank), David Veilleux (Team Europcar), Dominic Klemme (Argos-Shimano), Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun), Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis) and Grischa Janorschke (Team NetApp).
The pace in the peloton dropped off after covering the first two hours at a rapid 48km/h clip and as a result the 12 escapees gained a lead of four minutes in no time. Sky and BMC worked in the peloton to keep the gap under five minutes as they didn’t have a man in the lead group.
The break’s advantage over the peloton remained the same until the riders hit pavé section 21, Aulny-lez-Valenciennes – Famars. In front Saramotins flatted but near the front of the peloton there was a crash. Many riders were held up by those who hit the deck and blocked the road. The biggest casualties were Dutchmen Tom Stamsnijder and Tom Leezer. French veteran Fréderic Guesdon (FDJ-Big Mat) and young prospect Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan) were also hindered by the crash and they failed to come back to the peloton.
Arenberg forest looms large
The Sky team led the peloton at high speed towards the Arenberg forest with its notorious, grueling pavé sector. The passage started dramatically as in front Janorschke crashed hard, taking Popovych and Van Keirsbulck down with him. In the peloton top favorite Tom Boonen set the pace, soon to be helped by teammate and French champion Sylvain Chavanel.
At the back of the peloton outsiders like Grégory Rast (RadioShack-Nissan) and George Hincapie (BMC) suffered flats. Once out of the forest eight riders remained in the lead with less than two minutes on the peloton. The eight surviving riders from the early break included Boucher, Veuchelen, Lindemann, Morkov, Veilleux, Klemme, Mangel and Saramotins.
After the Arenberg forest several attacks were launched from the peloton and suddenly Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) was up the road together with Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Jimmy Casper (AG2R-La Mondiale), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ-Big Mat), Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) and Maarten Wynants (Rabobank). The six collected half a minute on the peloton but on pavé section 14 Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) took a strong pull to lead the peloton back to the six in the chase group. With such aggressive racing from the peloton the breakaway group didn’t stand a chance and at the feed zone, with 68km to go, there was a complete regrouping in front.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep goes long
During this tactical moment in the race Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) profited to sneak away with fellow French riders Mangel, Ladagnous, Turgot plus Switzerland’s Michael Schär (BMC) ahead of pavé section 12 in Orchies. Turgot blasted away on the cobbles from the lead group when Chavanel flatted. Meanwhile, in the peloton Boonen accelerated and only Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) was able to keep up. The duo caught up with Turgot at the end of pavé section 12. Soon afterwards Terpstra and Ballan bridged up as well, creating a five-man leader’s group.
Once back on asphalted roads there was no cooperation in this group and then the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team staged a coup as Boonen went up the road together with his lieutenant Terpstra. The situation initially looked awkward, though, as Terpstra was unable to keep up with his team leader on the 5-star pavé section 11 of Auchy-les-Orchies – Bersée. With approximately 52km to go Boonen was up the road on his own.
Behind him in the chase group co-favorite Pozzato misjudged a corner on the cobbles. The Italian star crashed into Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) and both riders lost valuable time while Boonen collected half a minute on the first chase group.
Can Boonen do it?
The gap remained at nearly half a minute when reaching pavé section 10. Boonen made it through the unforgiving 3km-long stretch at Mons-en-Pévèle while the peloton split apart behind him. The Sky team had the numbers in this seven-man group, featuring Flecha, Boasson Hagen andHayman. The other riders in the group were Ballan, Ladagnous, Boom and Terpstra. They were caught by seven more riders with 40km to go while Boonen’s lead had grown slightly to 40 seconds. The seven riders who bridged up were Ian Stannard (Sky), Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Barracuda), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana), Matteo Tosatto (Saxo Bank), Wynants and Turgot. Stannard did all he could to bring the gap down but instead Boonen hit pavé section 7 with a gap of 50 seconds on the chase group of 14 riders.
The Belgian struggled to get the gap over one minute but he eventually got it on the cobbles of Cysoing à Bourghelles (pavé section 6), with 27 km to go. At the same section there were a couple of accelerations in the chase group featuring Flecha, Boom, Ballan and Vansummeren but these were all neutralized by Terpstra.
Boom switched bikes on the asphalted roads towards the last important pavé sections of Camphin-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre where Boonen’s lead had grown to 1:20 on the chase group. Boom bounced back from his mechanical and steamed passed the group to launch a solo counter-attack. Flecha, Ballan and Ladagnous followed the Dutchman a little further back. For the first time the gap dropped but once Boonen finished the cobbles of the Carrefour de l’Arbre he still had 1:10 on Boom.
The Flecha, Ballan and Ladagnous group regained contact with Boom to form a four-rider chase, but they now seemed resigned to racing for second. The group lost horsepower at 13km remaining as Ladagnous flatted, while in front Boonen looked as smooth as ever across the pave as the distance to the Roubaix velodrome grew ever shorter.
Boonen kept his three chasers at bay and with 4km to go his lead stood at 1:32. The Belgian powerhouse soon cracked a smile for the cameras inside of 3km to go and he soon had the velodrome in Roubaix all to himself as he soaked up the adulation from the crowd and savoured every second of his triumphant 1.5 laps of the track for his fourth Paris-Roubaix victory.
1Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep5:55:22 2Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:39 3Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 4Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling 5Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 6Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:01:43 7Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank0:03:31 8Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling 9Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin – Barracuda 10Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team 11Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team 12Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 13Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan0:04:23 14Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team 15Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team0:04:37 16Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 17Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia 18Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 19Jimmy Casper (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 20Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 21Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 22Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team 23Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team 24Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 25Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar0:04:58 26Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan 27Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 28Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne0:06:22 29Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Barracuda 30Jean-Lou Paiani (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 31Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:06:25 32Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin – Barracuda 33Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:06:27 34Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat0:07:46 35Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank 36Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 37Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team 38Saïd Haddou (Fra) Team Europcar 39Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 40Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 41Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat 42Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 43George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 44Johan Le Bon (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller0:07:48 45Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:07:50 46Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 47David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar0:09:09 48Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:09:11 49Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:09:37 50Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team 51Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 52Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 53Stuart O’Grady (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team 54Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat 55Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 56Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling0:11:07 57Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team 58Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 59Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank 60Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 61Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha Team 62Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team 63John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos – Shimano 64Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre – ISD0:13:05 65Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 66Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan 67Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 68Gael Malacarne (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller 69Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 70Blaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp 71Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp 72Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank 73Kenny De Haes (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 74Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 75Jens Mouris (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team 76Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team 77André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 78Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank 79Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 80Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar 81Laurent Mangel (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 82Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 83Bert De Backer (Bel) Argos – Shimano 84Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin – Barracuda 85Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:17:17 86Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling HDReto Hollenstein (Swi) Team NetApp HDMarkus Eichler (Ger) Team NetApp HDRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi HDChristophe Laborie (Fra) Saur – Sojasun HDRonan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Argos – Shimano HDRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos – Shimano HDRoger Kluge (Ger) Argos – Shimano HDDominic Klemme (Ger) Argos – Shimano HDKristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale HDGregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale HDRafai Chtioui (Tun) Team Europcar HDJuraj Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale HDYuriy Krivtsov (Fra) Lampre – ISD HDDmytro Krivtsov (Ukr) Lampre – ISD HDLuke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank HDJaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank HDDavid Boucher (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat HDFrédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat HDMartin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team HDKris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team HDMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha Team HDJens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team HDMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan HDChristopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling HDRoberto De Patre (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia HDDennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team HDJack Bauer (NZl) Garmin – Barracuda DNFTimon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Team NetApp DNFAndré Schulze (Ger) Team NetApp DNFGrischa Janorschke (Ger) Team NetApp DNFLaurent Pichon (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller DNFMathieu Halleguen (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller DNFSébastien Duret (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller DNFJean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller DNFGuillaume Blot (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller DNFFlorian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne – Schuller DNFNico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne DNFEgoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne DNFEdwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne DNFPablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi DNFAdrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi DNFAlan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi DNFPierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel – Euskadi DNFRicardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi DNFYannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur – Sojasun DNFStéphane Poulhies (Fra) Saur – Sojasun DNFRony Martias (Fra) Saur – Sojasun DNFJérémie Galland (Fra) Saur – Sojasun DNFPablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team DNFRuben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team DNFValentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team DNFAssan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team DNFDmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Argos – Shimano DNFTom Veelers (Ned) Argos – Shimano DNFRomain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale DNFSteve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale DNFMartin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale DNFAlexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale DNFKristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale DNFEdward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale DNFMauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale DNFFederico Canuti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale DNFOleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr) Lampre – ISD DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre – ISD DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre – ISD DNFVitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre – ISD DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) Lampre – ISD DNFJonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team DNFAliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha Team DNFVladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team DNFFrederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team DNFMaarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team DNFGreg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team DNFMatthew Wilson (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team DNFTomas Vaitkus (Ltu) GreenEdge Cycling Team DNFSvein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge Cycling Team DNFBrett Lancaster (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team DNFBaden Cooke (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team DNFYaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack-Nissan DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan DNFTony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan DNFDaniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling DNFLeonardo Giordani (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia DNFThomas Bertolini (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia DNFCristiano Benenati (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia DNFLuca Ascani (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia DNFFilippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia DNFDanilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team DNFCoen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep DNFMatteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep DNFSébastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin – Barracuda DNFJacob Rathe (USA) Garmin – Barracuda DNFAndreas Klier (Ger) Garmin – Barracuda