Tom Boonen (Quick Step) won this year's Paris Roubaix in dramatic fashion, but the race was over-shadowed by what looked to be a bad accident involving a motorbike and a spectator 60Km from the finish. An early report from the Agence France Presse news agency quotes local emergency services as saying that 10 people were injured, three of them seriously when a motorcycle struck spectators lining the route. The accident happened around 3:45 pm GMT near the northern town of Orchies.
Although the crash is sure to cast a long shadow over the race it will also be remembered as a thrilling edition in which local hero, Boonen joined an elite band of three time winners.
As ever the pave played a pivotal part in the final result, going in to the last of the most difficult five star sections of cobbles, the Carrefour de l'Arbe section, 15km from the finish the race looked to be shaping up into a six man shoot out involving Boonen, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha). The odds were that it would come down to a spring between Boonen and Hushovd for the title, but this is Pari Roubaix and there's always time for one more twist.
Hushovd attacked and only Boonen stuck with while just behind Flecha crashed taking out the two Lotto riders, and leaving Hushovd and Boonen in the clear – Hushovd then ran wide on a corner and crashed too. The race was effectively Boonen's with only Pozzato not crashing but left 10 seconds down.
On the run in though Boonen kept up the pressure stretching his lead to 13 seconds with 11km to go, then 18seconds 5Km out, Pozzato then cracked and with 3Km to go Boonen had 27sec on his nearest challenger and the end of the race was turning in to a triumphal progress – much to the delight of the home fans.
The Belgian becomes only the seventh rider on an illustrious list of three time winners of the Hell of the North the other six are: - Octave Lapize (1909, 1910, 1911), Gaston Rebry (1931, 1934, 1935), Rik Van Looy (1961, 1962, 1965), Eddy Merckx (1968, 1970, 1973), Francesco Moser (1978, 1979, 1980) and Johan Museeuw (1996, 2000, 2002). He will chase Roger De Vlaeminck's record of four next year.
Paris Roubaix Provisional
1.Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 6:15:53
2.Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) 47 sec
3.Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) 1:17
4.Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto)
5.Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto)
6.Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) 2:14
7.Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) 3:13
8.Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
9 Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) 5:00
10 Matti Breschel (Team Saxo Bank) 5:29
Selected other results
15 Roger Hammond (Cervelo Test Team) 6:15
19 Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team) 6:32
25 Bradley Wiggins (Garmin - Slipstream)
44 George Hincapie (Team Columbia - Highroad)
49 Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) 6:48
62 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - Highroad) 12:12
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.