April 11, 2005
Boonen takes Paris-Roubaix, Hincapie second
Tom Boonen was the odds-on favorite going into Paris-Roubaix, but in a bicycle race, like a golf tournament, the favorites are never prohibitive. On a day when Tiger Woods took his fourth Masters championship, Boonen showed why they both were favored.
As with Tiger, this Paris-Roubaix went the distance, with Boonen just edging out Discovery Channel's George Hincapie and Fassa Bortolo's Juan Antonio Flecha.
Boonen, who also won the Tour of Flanders earlier this month, takes over the lead of the ProTour from Alessandro Petacchi, who has never started the Hell of the North. The 24-year-old, formerly a US Postal rider, has firmly established himself as one of the world's best one-day riders.
Sunday's big move had 2004 winner Magnus Backstedt, Boonen, Flecha and teammate Fabian Cancellara, Hincapie, and CSC's Lars Michaelsen -- everything but a big sign that said "Winning break departing now."
Cancellara flatted, then as the pace increased, Michaelsen and then TDFBlog favorite Magnus Backstedt were dropped about 16 km out. From Yahoo! Sport:
"I was on the last wheel and as we went round a corner Mickaelsen swung out and left a bit of a gap," explained Backstedt who finished fourth. "I tried to close it but just couldn't. The front three were just far too strong for me."
Boonen said he had most feared Backstedt and Michaelson in a finishing sprint over the roleurs Hincapie and Flecha. Left with Hincapie and Flecha, Boonen picked their pocket, holding third position into the Roubaix velodrome, choosing his attack, and outkicking Hincapie for the win.
Hincapie becomes the first American to make the Paris-Roubaix podium.
1) Tom Boonen (Quick-Step), 6:27:31
2) George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), same time
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), same time
4. Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), at 1:09
5. Lars Michaelsen (Team CSC), at 2:43
6. Leon van Bon (Davitamon - Lotto), at 3:49
7. Florent Brard (Agritubel), same time
8. Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo), same time
9. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), same time
10. Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis), same time
CSC's Andrea Tafi, who won Paris-Roubaix in 1999, made his last career start, but withdrew early, as did Peter Van Petegem, among others. Former US Postal rider Victor Hugo Peña crashed in the neutral zone, before racing even got under way, and DNF'ed.
With his early season goals achieved, Boonen said he'll concentrate on the Tour de France green jersey and the World Championships in Madrid:
“This is a dream for me,” said Boonen. “Flanders and Roubaix are the two races I’ve wanted to win the most, and I’ve now won them both. This gives me a huge amount of confidence for the rest of the season. I’m going to go on holiday now and try to find new motivation for my remaining two goals this season, which are to win the points title at the Tour de France and the Worlds.”
Fassa Bortolo's supersprinter, Alessandro Petacchi, has previously announced he won't ride the 2005 Tour, to focus on worlds, and Oscar Freire is bound to target world's, since they're in Spain, so it looks like the stage is set for a major showdown in Madrid.
"I'm satisfied, yet disappointed at the same time," said Hincapie, who couldn't counter when Boonen shot away high off the final turn in the velodrome. "This gives me even more motivation to come back here and win next year."
Why did Hincapie let it go to a sprint against Boonen?
[Discovery assistant DS Dirk] Demol added, "it wasn't possible to attack in the final 20 kms." On Boonen, he added, "every kilometer closer to the finish, we kept thinking 'how can we beat him?'"
The second place finish moved Hincapie up into fourth place in the ProTour standings.
CyclingRevealed.com offers a look at the Belgian Classics, and Johan Museeuw, who won Paris-Roubaix three times.
great sum up! i been reluctant to favor backstedt, still inclined to think that last year's win was slightly fluky. well i'm the idiot.
what struck me most was how much boonen owned the end of the race. he was doing massive pulls on the pave and the pace looked brutal. my kudos to george. he's been close so many times that i dearly wanted him to get a big classic, but there was no doubt: boonen was tactically and atheletically the complete man on sunday.
Posted by: harry at Apr 12, 2005 2:31:27 AM