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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Boonen takes Tour of Flanders

Local knowledge and a well-timed burst of acceleration helped the home favourite to victory over Italians Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan.

Image: Yves Logghe/AP/Press Association Images

HAVING ALREADY TASTED victory in front of home crowds on two occasions this year, in the E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem road races, Tom Boonen entered today’s 256 km Tour of Flanders the overwhelming favourite to capture a third career victory in the most prestigious of the Flemish Classics.

Billed by less partisan commentators as a duel between the Omega Pharma-Quick Step specialist and a resurgent Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan), the Swiss rider’s catastrophic failure to negotiate a chaotic feed zone with 60 kms to go allowed the Belgian free reign in which to express his talent.

Breaking clear with the Italian duo of Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) on the penultimate climb of the day, Boonen reached the closing straight with a 40-second advantage over the main peloton.

Lurking on Ballan’s wheel until the 350-metre mark, the 31-year-old brought his superior stamina to bear in the closing sprint, eventually crossing the line with a bike length to spare over Pozzato.

Typically for an early season Classic, crashes and injuries took their toll on the peloton. In additon to Cancellara, who was later diagnosed with a triple fracture of the right collarbone, the race claimed noteworthy casualties in Sebastian Langeveld (GreenEdge), Jeremy Hunt (Team Sky), Lars Boom (Rabobank) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).

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