Fabian Cancellara animated the Tour of Flanders by his absence. Crashing out of the race with a broken collarbone, the Swiss star opened the door for riders like Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan.
The biggest recipient was the race winner and Ronde favorite Ton Boonen who beat the two Italians in the final sprint to take his third win in Flanders.
“I was worried about heading to the finish with those Italians. They know each other well and I feared that they would kill me, but the strong headwind was my ally,” said Boonen. “I had to count on my sprint. I started too early and didn’t have much left but it was enough.”
It’s been as astonishing run for Boonen who has now won E3, Gent-Wevelgem and Flanders. Such was the dominance of his Omega-Pharma-QuickPedal squad that they placed three men in the top ten with Niki Terpstra taking 6th and Sylvain Chavanel nipping in for 10th.
Twisted Spoke favorite Filippo Pozzato confirmed that he is back at the top, confident and dangerous. He rode the race at the front from beginning to end and only Boonen’s superior sprint prevented him from winning.
“I had the impression that Boonen was tired and that I could beat him but in the last five kilometers he proved the opposite. In the sprint he can build on his explosive skills,” Pozzato told Sporza.
On the Paterberg and Kwaremont, it was Pozzato and Ballan who appeared the strongest with Boonen just managing to hang on. Master P has to be happy with this result and he is itching for next week’s Paris-Roubaix. He knows with Cancellara gone his odds just shot up. Confidence is everything.
Things looked a little dangerous for Twisted Spoke when BMC’s Ballan, Mr. Montova, made the final selection. We had publicly stated that we’d eat our Sidis if the Italian won Flanders. Fortunately, the man has no sprint and was unable to shake his two rivals in the final 3K. An impressive ride. Ballan was the rider who profited most from the disappearance of Cancellara — opening up the last spot on the podium.
We’re embarrassed to admit our wild card dark-horse Stijn Devolder did jack-shit in Flanders. Let’s repeat that for emphasis: jack-crap. He was invisible and Vacansoleil isn’t buying him any beers Sunday night. He won two editions of the Ronde and two it will stay.
The 22 year old Pater Sagan can feel justifiably proud of his 5th place. Still he seems a little tactically lost and we wonder if the Liquigas team need a rethink. Maybe he simply didn’t have the legs but it appears as if he’s caught between riding races as a sprinter and as a classics guy. So much talent but tough to make up his mind.
Special props and a chapeau to Tour de France darling, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) who somehow managed to score an 8th place. What was he even doing on the cobblestones? The man decided he was a climber in Le Tour and now he’s a classics hardman, too? He and Chavanel waved the French flag with panache in Belgium.
The second strongest man in the race won — the strongest left in an ambulance. Tom Boonen sets himself for Paris-Roubaix as an almost unstoppable force with the strongest classics squad. Can Master P find a way to steal a win in the velodrome? Can anyone?