Omega-Pharma on fire at E3 Prijs-Vlaanderen!
Tom Boonen smokes everyone in the sprint, beating the aging Spanish cat Oscar Freire and Mark Cavendish’s personal domestique Bernard Eisel (Sky).
Boonen isn’t the sprinter he used to be after a few hard crashes in the last few years. He’s complained about the insane risks “cowboys” like Peter Sagan (Liquigas) take in the last 500 meters. Still, on a good day, Tommeke is tough to beat.
“I’m very happy. It’s my first little record. I was eager to win and now there’s a little bit less pressure on my shoulder. I like a big win ahead of [the Tour of] Flanders,” said Boonen.
One name you didn’t see on the podium was the rider who won the previous two editions of E3 in dominating fashion — Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek). He hit the deck not once but twice — even hitting a spectator –but still managed to make it back to the front group. They don’t call him Superman for nothing but today wasn’t his day.
There were no surprises or dark horses at E3. Pretty much every rider who’d scored a podium or showed recent form was at the front. The domestiques sat back and watched the show. Cancellara, Boonen, Friere, Pozzato, Vanmarcke and Chavanel were front and center.
The only man missing — or should we say the entire team — was Philippe Gilbert and the BMC Racing squad. Just the other day head man Jim Ochowicz insisted there was no pressure to get that first win.
No, we don’t believe that one either. Pretty soon owner Andy Rihs will be withholding paychecks and withholding the glass of wine at dinner. Alessandro Ballan, Plan D in Milan San Remo, took a quiet eighth place just like in La Primavera. Both Philippe Gilbert and George Hincapie were DNF.
Special props again go to Mr. Resurrection, Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini Selle Italia) who hammered it hard and Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil) who was on the attack until the bitter end. Neither made the top ten in the bunch sprint but Pozzato in particular has shown he’s ready for the cobblestones and that broken collarbone from Qatar is history.
Bonus winner: Specialized bikes. The marketing plan looked bleak when Saxo Bank’s superstar Alberto Contador lost his steak au clenbuterol case. But Specialized’s other squad, Omega-Pharma QuickStep, is on a tear with Boonen, Leipheimer, and company winning races. We noted the role of rockstar DS Brian Holm but let’s also give a thumbs up to Mogan Hill’s Specialized. These guys are flying.