Monday, April 11, 2005

Boonan cobbles together a win

Tom Boonen officially became the Belgium master in the one-day classics when, just two weeks after winning the Tour of Flanders, he pulled off a major coup with a winning sprint at Sunday's Paris-Roubaix race. In doing so, the Quick Step team rider crushed the hopes of Discovery Team's George Hincapie, who had hoped to become the first American to win the so-called Queen of the Classics.

Paris-Roubaix offers a gritty spectacle with the hard-charging peloton jouncing over treacherous cobblestone sections during the race. During yesterday's event a crash seemed to occur over every cobblestone portion. At one point the peloton appeared to implode as a rider went down in the middle of the pack, causing a chain reaction of cyclists to vanish in a tumble of wheels and bike frames. One of the unlucky racers was one-day classic expert Peter Van Petegem, who withdrew from the event.

Boonen and Hincapie broke away late in the race with two other riders, dropping the Swiss giant Magnus Backstetd - last year's winner - before they reached the velodrome at Roubaix. Once in the velodrome, it was all over but the crying. Boonen sat on the wheel of Hincapie, who in turn drafted Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha. While Hincapie and Flecha hesitated, Boonen went, sprinting off the American's back wheel to win the grueling race.

For full coverage, check out Samuel Apt writing in the International Herald Tribune: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/10/news/bike.html

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