Tom Boonen ruled the new Tour of Flanders parcours today around Oudenaarde, Belgium. He controlled the team with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team, covered attacks and sprinted to the win.
It was a combination of skills he used to win the E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem in the last week, and of good luck. Race favourite Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) crashed ahead of the final and another crash with Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Barracuda), split the group on the last of three climbs.
Boonen kept cool through out and wasn’t worried about losing.
“Fear? It wouldn’t change anything if I lost. If you win it, you win it,” he said in a post-race press conference. “Sometimes there’s not a big difference between first and second.”
Sky controlled with Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel and Christian Knees to bring Edvald Boasson Hagen back into the race ahead of the final Oude Kwaremont climb. Boonen followed an attack by Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) to ride free. The trio had nine seconds with 15 kilometres to race and one minute at five kilometres to race.
Boonen only had to watch Ballan, who had to attack free to win, and Pozzato. Ballan attacked three times, including under the one-kilometre banner, but he couldn’t get free.
“I was not going to let them go,” Boonen said. “When Ballan went two times, I was on his wheel, and waiting for Pozzato to try. It was going to be hard for him with the headwind. Pippo was strong on the Kwaremont, but in the sprint he had no chance.”
It was his third Flanders victory after 2005 and 2006. He holds the most number of wins with only four others.
Boonen wins 2012 Tour of Flanders