Paris-Roubaix: Tom Boonen makes history as he powers to stunning solo win

Belgian wins race for record-equalling fourth time after riding final 50km alone

by Simon_MacMichael   April 8, 2012  

Paris-Roubaix: Arenberg cobbles © Simon MacMichael.jpg

Tom Boonen has capped a towering 2012 Classics season by today winning Paris-Roubaix for a record equalling fourth time, Europcar's Sebastien Turgot taking second place from BMC Racing's Alessandro Ballan. Boonen's victory in this afternoon's 110th edition of the race will surely go down as his most remarkable.

Attacking alongside Omega Pharma-Quick Step team mate Niki Terpstra with more than a fifth of the 257.5km parcours still to ride, Boonen soon found himself alone in front. Heading into the last 20 kilometres, he had streched out a gap of more than a minute, and by the time he had safely negotiated the often decisive Carrefour de l'Arbre sector of pavé, the race behind him was for second place.

Last year, the main contenders had ridden a defensively as they marked Fabian Cancellara, who 12 months earlier had attacked from more than 40 kilometres out to time trial his way to victory. Garmin’s Johan Vansummeren had profited from that to attack from the break and take a surprise solo win.

Cancellara of course was absent today after shattering his collarbone in last week’s Tour of Flanders, but again, one rider found himself alone at the front of the race as it entered its closing kilometres.

Improbably, that man was Boonen, seeking to become the first man to win both Flanders and Roubaix during the same season twice. He was also aiming to become the first rider to win Gent-Wevelgem, the E3 Harelbeke, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year.

Another record was within the Belgian’s sights. Last week in Flanders, the 31-year-old had won that race for a record-equalling third time; today he could emulate Roger de Vlaeminck, the only four-time winner of Paris-Roubaix.

Boonen's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team had moved to the front of the race as it approached the fearsome pavé of the Arenberg Trench, more than 80 kilometres from the finish at the velodrome in Roubaix, and almost excluded from this year's race due to the poor condition of the road, including moss growing between the cobblestones.

A couple of minutes before the group containing the main contenders hit the former mining track, its dangers had been highlighted by a crash in the breakaway as NetApp's Grishka Janorschke lost control, bringing down several other riders of the 12-man group.

There was to be no such drama in the main group, although riders including Andre Greipel and George Hincapie were among those to succumb to the inevitable punctures.

The main group itself comprised those riders who had survived an earlier selection on the seventh section of pavé with 110 kilometres still to ride, when most of the peloton was held up behind a tangle of bikes and bodies following an innocuous looking crash.

Among the men who were held up was 1997 winner Frederic Guesdon of FDJ-BigMat, riding his last professional race. He would go on to complete it, long after Boonen, but still got some of the biggest cheers from the crowd.

Most of the main contenders had kept towards the front of the bunch to avoid their hopes being ended in such a manner, and were still present in the group of 35 or so riders that emerged from the Arenberg with only eight riders now ahead of them on the road.

Briefly a small break including threats to Boonen such as Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha and BMC Racing's Alessandro Ballan got away, but Omega Pharma Quick Step quickly chased them down.

By now, the earlier break had been swallowed up and next to attack was Europcar’s Turgot, desperately trying to build a gap over the bunch. Boonen and Terpstra managed to bridge across, as did Balland and Farnese Vini’s Filippo Pozzato.

The two Italians had contested the finale of the Tour of Flanders with Boonen last week, and for a moment it looked as though that trio of riders might once again try and ride away from the group.

Ballan and Pozzato proved unable to handle the pace being set by the Omega Pharma-Quick Step pair, however, and soon the pair were on their own. On the next pavé section, with more than 50 kilometres left, Terpstra too dropped back.

Boonen was now riding at the front of the race alone, and into a place in the record books, his pursuers, including four Team Sky riders in the shape of Flecha, Mat Hayman, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ian Stannard, unable to close the gap.

Rabobank’s Lars Boom desperately tried to eat into the Belgian’s lead on the Carrefour de l’Arbre, but failed to dent it as Boonen headed towards a history-making victory in Roubaix.

Paris-Roubaix 2012 result

1  BOONEN Tom          OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 5h 55' 22"
2  TURGOT Sébastien    TEAM EUROPCAR            + 01' 39"
3  BALLAN Alessandro   BMC RACING TEAM
4  FLECHA Juan Antonio SKY PROCYCLING
5  TERPSTRA Niki       OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP
6  BOOM Lars           RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM    + 01' 43"
7  TOSATTO Matteo      TEAM SAXO BANK           + 03' 31"
8  HAYMAN Mathew       SKY PROCYCLING
9  VAN SUMMEREN Johan  GARMIN-BARRACUDA
10 WYNANTS Maarten     RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM
11 PAOLINI Luca        KATUSHA TEAM
12 LADAGNOUS Matthieu  FDJ-BIGMAT
13 RAST Gregory        RADIOSHACK-NISSAN        +04' 23"
14 HUSHOVD Thor        BMC RACING TEAM
15 PHINNEY Taylor      BMC RACING TEAM          +04' 37"
16 CHAINEL Steve       FDJ-BIGMAT
17 HULSMANS Kevin      FARNESE-SELLE ITALIA
18 SARAMOTINS Aleksejs COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE
19 CASPER Jimmy        AG2R LA MONDIALE
20 MARCATO Marco       VACANSOLEIL-DCM

4 user comments

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just one word ... Chapeau Big Grin

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [698 posts]
8th April 2012 - 17:46

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Echo that.

Stunning ride.

Bet a few Spesh Roubaix bikes will be sold on the back of that too.

posted by Super Domestique [1598 posts]
8th April 2012 - 18:51

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Epic of epic rides ...

i watched the last 75km on my iPad (eurosport app) and couldn't believe how he distanced the group. Gotta say the others should have helped Sky when it was obvious Tom was on a super super day

posted by Parlee-king [38 posts]
9th April 2012 - 9:58

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He wasn't even wearing gloves, did you see? That frame must be so plush.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [267 posts]
9th April 2012 - 10:48

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