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107th Paris-Roubaix - HIS

France, April 12, 2009

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Boonen's magical third!

By Laura Weislo with Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix

A third for Tom Boonen!
Photo ©: AFP
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Tom Boonen stamped his name into history with a magnificent third victory in Paris-Roubaix thanks in part to an uncanny ability to avoid crashes in the critical final kilometres, as well as his trademark power on the cobbles. He joined fellow Belgians Eddy Merckx, Johan Museeuw and Rik Van Looy on the list of riders who have won the "Hell of the North" three times.

"As a performance I rate this as high as my first win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, possibly even higher," said an elated Boonen after the win.

"With all the crashes today, it was very hard, it took time for the last break to take shape. After Arenberg, I had a puncture and took another bike, I did not feel too well at that stage but in the finale, the others looked even worse while I kept the momentum."

The Quick Step star was in a lead group of six favourites which included a surprise appearance by Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam), along with Leif Hoste, Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha). The six worked together until an unbelievable string of events unfolded with 20km to go which clearly demonstrated that Boonen was riding under a lucky star.

Boonen's first Easter miracle came when he followed an attack by Hushovd. The pair were fortunate to hold a few metres advantage coming into sector four of the pavé, Le Carrefour de l'Arbre, as the gods of Paris-Roubaix were about to smote the chasing quartet.

Flecha, chasing after the two leaders, came into the dusty turn at the entrance to the sector too hot, and took a devastating tumble. Hoste, blind to the fallen Spaniard a few metres behind, came into the turn straight into Flecha, and flew head over heels onto the ground. Van Summeren, with lightning reflexes, made a dramatic power-slide stop to assist his captain while Pozzato was forced to brake to avoid the fallen riders before setting off in pursuit of the leaders.

Seconds later Boonen's next bit of luck came as he led the Norwegian through the sector. The god of thunder was no match for the demons of the pavé, and Hushovd crashed on the ground, leaving 'Tommeke' to solo to victory.

"I didn't see Thor crash," Boonen said. "At the Carrefour de l'Arbre Hushovd attacked and I followed him. I heard something behind me but there's no way you can look behind you on those cobbles. Then Hushovd lost speed and I passed him. Once in that position I went full gas.

"I couldn't hear anything as there's a lot of noise coming from the crowds. Once off the pavé sector I noticed I was on my own with a gap of 10 seconds. From then on I didn't look back and gave all I had. I didn't hear any information from the radio until I had 20 seconds over Pozzato, and then 22, and 24... It was a fight from man to man and I won it."

A dirty and slightly disappointed Thor Hushovd
Photo ©: ISPA
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Hushovd's mistake cost him an excellent chance at victory, as he is undoubtedly the stronger sprinter of the two. "I couldn't win because of the crash. My arm is still impeded from another crash and I was shaking a bit, but I don't know what happened. I had good legs and I attacked – Boonen followed me," said Hushovd.

Only Pozzato could stay within a reasonable chasing distance, but the brief delay he experienced due to Flecha's crash cost him. He got within ten seconds of the flying Belgian, but Pozzato could not close the distance and finished a disappointing second.

The Italian was tantalisingly close to reaching Boonen, who he suspected was getting a little bit of help from the motorcade. "I thought it was possible for a while and then... You know with all those police and photographer motorbikes he might of had a little bit of slipstream, but I only had one bike at my side, no one ahead. At the end he went strong and there was nothing to do."

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Hushovd, having remounted after his tumble, chased with Hoste and Van Summeren just under a minute behind the leader. Coming into the velodrome in Roubaix, the Norwegian attacked to steal the final podium spot from the demoralized Silence-Lotto duo. Hushovd was pleased to have taken third, but said that it was not a foregone conclusion. "You never know in a sprint. I am happy to be on the podium, but it's hard that I had the crash in the most important point."

Flecha struggled in for sixth chasing behind the Silence-Lotto riders, still smarting from his crash. "I was good, I was riding smart and clever," said Flecha. "I was attentive and mentally fresh, but at the end of that corner I just slipped away. Those corners are bad corners, I just slipped away. I caused the crash, and then after the bike was damaged. I could not get back because the rings were bent and the chain would not hold."

The day was another disappointment for American George Hincapie, who flatted on sector 15 just as the front group was splitting up. He had two teammates, Boasson Hagen and Eisel, to help chase but failed to make the leading group.

The early break numbers 11

The inhabitants of the royal city of Compiègne waved the 187 hell fighters goodbye at 11:05 under reasonably nice weather conditions. Temperatures were a mild 15°C but more importantly, it wasn't raining. Most early attacks were in vain but by the end of the first hour – averaged at 45.7 km/h – an eleven-man strong group managed to distance the peloton. The group included big guns like former winner Servais Knaven, Andreas Klier, and further Maarten Wynants, Kasper Klostergaard, Joost Posthuma, Steven Cozza, Angelo Furlan, Greg Henderson and also the duo Yoann Offredo and Wesley Sulzberger.

The advantage of the lead group grew up to four minutes and at that moment the Silence-Lotto team started working in the peloton to keep the gap under control, later on joined by the Saxo Bank team in doing the hard work.

While storming towards the famous pavé section through the Arenberg forest, a big crash occurred in the 2400 meters long sector ahead of it, taking down team Garmin's Martijn Maaskant.

Chaos in the trenches

The leaders still had three minutes on the peloton coming into the forest, and Cozza led the group over the five starred sector with all riders making it through the famously horrible pavé unscathed.

Things were quite different in the peloton, however, and shortly after the bunch entered the forest a huge crash occurred taking out several riders, but also holding up the returning Maaskant group. Tom Boonen led the peloton until halfway through the trench, then Matti Breschel took over and eventually Heinrich Haussler impressed with a huge pull in the final meters.

A big group came out of the forest and included favorites like Pozzato, Boonen, Cancellara, Flecha, Hoste, but the group didn't include riders like Stijn Devolder, Sylvain Chavanel and Manuel Quinziato.

Ten kilometers later this chasing group made contact with the group of Boonen while entering pavé sector number 16, and things started to cool down in the first peloton of about seventy riders, chasing at one minute and a half from the ten leaders.

Devolder clearly encountered a problem in the forest as he changed bikes shortly after that. Columbia's George Hincapie got out his rhythm as well when he was forced to change a wheel when he punctured in sector 15. Teammates Eisel and Boasson Hagen waited for their team leader and brought 'mister no chain' back to the peloton by sector 14, with 72 kilometers to go.

Coming out of sector 14, the riders turned left into crosswinds and the Danish Saxo Bank team decided this was the moment to make the race hard and pull in front. Several riders got dropped and the gap to the leaders dropped back to under one minute.

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) did a superb race
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

When Boonen made a huge pull on sector 13 he got away with six other riders: team-mate Wouter Weylandt, Johan Van Summeren, Manuel Quinziato, Pozzato, Cancellara and Breschel; forcing the Cervélo team into defence. Meanwhile a motorbike ran into some spectators and almost took out Boonen as well; nine people got injured, three seriously.

With 61 kilometers to go the Boonen group caught up with the early breakaway, creating a 21-strong lead group. But entering sector 12 things quickly turned around. Weylandt attacked and got away with Haussler, Klostergaard, Flecha and Quinziato. The five quickly gained a gap of 20 seconds over the 12-man chasing group that consisted of Boonen, Wynants, Chavanel, Pozzato, Breschel, Cancellara, Henderson, Klier, Hushovd, Hoste, Van Summeren and Frédéric Guesdon.

Boonen figured things weren't quite like he wanted and on sector 11 he accelerated in front of the chasing group, bridging back up to the leader's group together with Pozzato and Hushovd. Other riders bridged up as well, but Quick Step continued to put the hammer down with Chavanel and Boonen taking turns at the front. With 50km to go fifteen riders led the race, with a Columbia-led peloton trailing at one minute from the leaders.

The selection is made

The lead group of six with Boonen and Pozzato leading.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Boonen continued to put the hammer down as he accelerated again on the legendary 3km long pavé stretch of Mons-en-Pévèle, getting away with Pozzato, Flecha, Hushovd, Van Summeren and Hoste and this time the Saxo Bank team was missing out in front and trailing in a nine-man chasing group at 20 seconds.

Thirty kilometers from the finish, in Cysoing, the first chasers followed at a minute from the leaders. The six leaders – including three Belgians – took a breather and got ready for the real finale; Boonen did a quick bike change before entering the final six pavé sectors.

Right after hitting sector six, Cancellara and Klostergaard were dropped from the chasing group that was now trailing by 1:45. In front everybody was working along swiftly heading towards the legendary 2100 meters long sector number four at the Carrefour de l'Arbre. Hushovd attacked, drawing Boonen away. Behind, Flecha tried to anticipate the legendary cobbled stretch but went down in the turn at the entrance. The Spaniard's crash took both Silence-Lotto guys out of contention, while Pozzato was distanced as well.

Steaming through huge – mostly Flemish lion flag weaving – crowds, Boonen and Hushovd took the lead but in the next left hand corner Hushovd went down as well. Boonen emerged from the Carrefour de l'Arbre alone with Pozzato trailing by 13 seconds. Hoste, Van Summeren and Hushovd chased at 40" from the sole Belgian leader when arriving at the Gruson sector.

Pozzato held his second place, netting a fine result for his new Katusha team, while Hushovd reduced Hoste to tears by stealing the final podium spot.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Sirotti/www.sirotti.it

Images by AFP Photo

Images by ISPA/www.ispaphoto.be

Images by Nicolas Götz/www.sport-phot.com

Images by Tom De Meyer/www.TomDeMeyer.be

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews

Images by Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Tim Van Wichelen/www.cyclingview.be

Images by Florian Schaaf/www.cyclingpictures.de

Images by Ian Ralph


1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                            6.15.53 (42.343 km/h)
2 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha                        0.47
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                      1.17
4 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence-Lotto                                
5 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence-Lotto                    1.22
6 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank                        2.14
7 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team                 3.13
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step                         3.15
9 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas                           5.00
10 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank                      5.29
11 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step                             
12 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team                        
13 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux                    
14 Kévin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step                          6.15
15 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                        
16 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank                       
17 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram                              
18 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago        6.19
19 Jérémy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                      6.32
20 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad                
21 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                 
22 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux                  
23 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                          
24 Damien Gaudin (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                    
25 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream                    
26 Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                      
27 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step                             
28 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence-Lotto                        
29 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne           
30 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team Saxo Bank                       
31 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Agritubel                             
32 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team Saxo Bank                            
33 Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana                                    
34 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago             
35 Florent Brard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne              
36 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram                             
37 Nicolaï Trussov (Rus) Team Katusha                           
38 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto                        
39 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                
40 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                         
41 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team           
42 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
43 Rony Martias (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                     
44 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - Highroad               
45 Lars Bak (Den) Team Saxo Bank                                
46 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                        
47 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - Highroad            6.43
48 Kasper Klostergaard (Den) Team Saxo Bank                 6.45
49 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   6.48
50 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana                           9.09
51 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Team Columbia - Highroad        11.11
52 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas                          
53 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                         
54 Aleixei Markov (Rus) Team Katusha                            
55 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step                              
56 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                          12.12
57 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                         
58 Rui Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne                             
59 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux                  
60 Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                           
61 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux                   
62 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - Highroad          
63 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank                            
64 Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin - Slipstream                       
65 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad              
66 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                          
67 Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                  12.32
68 Alexandre Moos (Swi) BMC Racing Team                    16.57
69 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team      17.30
70 Björn Schröder (Ger) Team Milram                        17.36
71 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Rabobank                                
72 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                         
73 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram                             
74 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas                                
75 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                   
76 Christophe Laurent (Fra) Agritubel                           
77 Alexandre Blain (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne            
78 Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator          
79 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano                             
80 Martin Velits (Svk) Team Milram                              
81 Emilien-Benoît Berges (Fra) Agritubel                        
82 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                          
83 Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                      
84 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank                             
85 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux                       
86 Bert De Backer (Bel) Skil-Shimano                            
87 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                     
88 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team                       
89 Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - N.G.C.                            
90 Michaël Barry (Can) Team Columbia - Highroad                 
91 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step                              
92 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas                                    
93 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana                                   
94 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank                      17.46
95 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream                 
96 Romain Villa (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne               
97 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                          
98 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                   
99 Michael Friedman (USA) Garmin - Slipstream              17.48
HD Ian McKissick (USA) BMC Racing Team                          
HD Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team            
HD Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team               
HD Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                      
HD Steve Morabito (Swi) Astana                                  
HD Marlon Perez Arango (Col) Caisse d'Epargne                   
HD Denis Flahaut (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                
HD Maarten Neyens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator          
HD Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha                          
HD Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel                                 
HD Kevin Ista (Bel) Agritubel                                   
HD Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                 
HD Steve Chainel (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                    
HD Aurélien Clerc (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale                        
HD Alexandre Usov (Blr) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne             
HD Sébastien Portal (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne           
HD Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas                             
HD Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas                                 
HD Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - N.G.C.                           
DNF Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step                             
DNF Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                     
DNF Hans Dekkers (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                      
DNF Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                        
DNF William Frischkorn (USA) Garmin - Slipstream                
DNF Mickaël Delage (Fra) Silence-Lotto                          
DNF Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Silence-Lotto                         
DNF Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence-Lotto                            
DNF Glenn D'Hollander (Bel) Silence-Lotto                       
DNF Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team Columbia - Highroad               
DNF Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux                 
DNF Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux                      
DNF Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux                       
DNF Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank                                   
DNF Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank                                   
DNF Murilo Antoniobil Fischer (Bra) Liquigas                    
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas                             
DNF Guillaume Blot (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne            
DNF Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne     
DNF Thomas Fothen (Ger) Team Milram                             
DNF Martin Müller (Ger) Team Milram                             
DNF Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram                             
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano                           
DNF Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano                             
DNF Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil-Shimano                          
DNF Long Jin (Chn) Skil-Shimano                                 
DNF Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale                       
DNF Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                    
DNF Cédric Pineau (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                        
DNF Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                    
DNF Gatis Smukulis (Lat) AG2R La Mondiale                       
DNF Mathieu Claude (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                  
DNF Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                
DNF Steven Caethoven (Bel) Agritubel                            
DNF Rémy Cusin (Fra) Agritubel                                  
DNF Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel                               
DNF Brett Daniel Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team              
DNF Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team                     
DNF Kenny De Haes (Bel) Team Katusha                            
DNF Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Team Katusha                        
DNF Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha                        
DNF Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator       
DNF Stijn Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator           
DNF Klaas Lodewijck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator        
DNF Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator           
DNF Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator          
DNF David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago               
DNF Mathieu Drouilly (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago            
DNF Kevin Neyrinck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago              
DNF Martial Ricci Poggi (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago         
DNF Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                       
DNF Angel Madrazo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                        
DNF Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                       
DNF Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                   
DNF Valery Dimitriyev (Kaz) Astana                              
DNF Berik Kupeshov (Kaz) Astana                                 
DNF Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana                                
DNF Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                   
DNF Josu Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                       
DNF Andoni Lafuente (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                   
DNF Wim De Vocht (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team             
DNF Gerben Löwik (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team             
DNF Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team       
DNF Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team            
DNF Antonio Cruz (USA) BMC Racing Team                          
DNF Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team                         
DNF Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team                         
DNF Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team                       
DNF Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team