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Tour of Flanders: Cancellara time trials his way to victory

Swiss rider puts down the hammer on the Muur to drop Tom Boonen

Fabian Cancellara dropped home favourite Tom Boonen on the race’s penultimate climb, the Muur, to time trial his way to an impressive solo victory in the Tour of Flanders this afternoon, waving the Swiss national flag as he crossed the line almost a minute and a quarter ahead of the Belgian. Philippe Gilbert finished third for the second year in a row, more than two minutes down on the winner.

The two had got off the front of the race with 40 kilometres to go and began the climb of the Muur together before, as the road narrowed and the cobbles and gradient got tougher heading towards the summit, Cancellara accelerated with apparent ease, leaving behind the struggling Boonen, out of the saddle as he desperately tried to hold on.

By the time the Team Saxo Bank rider reached the chapel at the top of the climb, and with just the Bosberg left of the day’s 15 climbs, the race was the World and Olympic time trial champion’s to lose.

There was no way that the Swiss rider, who last year suffered the misfortune of having his chain snap on the Kopppenburg, was going to let that happen, and by the time he reached the Bosberg, he was a minute ahead of the Belgian national champion, twice winner of the Tour of Flanders in the past.

Today’s victory was the first in the race for Cancellara, winner of Milan San Remo in 2008 and Paris-Roubaix two years earlier. Boonen will doubtless be looking to exact revenge in the 2010 edition of the latter, which takes place next Sunday.

While Team Sky had forced the pace as the race entered its closing 50 kilometres, with Matthew Hayman getting off the front on his own for a while before Cancellara and Boonen made their move, none of their riders figured in the top ten finishers.

Vacansoleil's Bjorn Leukemans made it three Belgians in the top four - although none finished in the position the home crowd would have wanted - followed by the American pairing of Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar in fifth and George Hincapie of BMC Racing in sixth.

Next came the top British rider, Roger Hammond of Cervelo TestTeam, with an excellent seventh place.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Simon_MacMichael | 14 years ago

Video here of Cancellara and Boonen heading up the Muur and Cancellara's attack... Flemish commentary adds to the atmosphere, they get a bit excitable  4

dave atkinson | 14 years ago

jonathan creek wasn't bad though  1

Blackhound | 14 years ago

Completely messed up the recording day and evening. Just sat down to watch highlights to see I recorded Jonathan Creek last night...

Sounds like a good race.

Old Cranky | 14 years ago

Fantastic race and the atmosphere was superb on the muur.

James Warrener | 14 years ago

Awesome race and top ride by David Millar who up to the Muur looked in the race for a podium spot.

He still had the strength to set up Farrar for the sprint from that group who caught him on the run-in.

curdins | 14 years ago

Yeah - great race. But did anyone end up as hacked-off with Eurosport as me, out for the day and so relying on the 21:15 showing to watch the race, only to have 'Planet Armstrong' on at 21:10 give the result away at the end of five minutes of licking the Texan's backside? Whatever happened to 'for those that don't want to see the result, look away now...'? Why doesn't he just retire for good and force the (lazier sections of the) media to focus on other established as well as up-and-coming professionals, those actually trying to win a classic rather than using it as training for their only objective of the season? See you in July, Mellow Johnny, but please just disappear until then, when hopefully El Pistolero will show you that you can't be top dog forever - no matter how popular and carismatic you might be off the bike.

Simon_MacMichael replied to curdins | 14 years ago
curdins wrote:

only to have 'Planet Armstrong' on at 21:10 give the result away

Hate it when that happens, and in this day and age you did well to get that far without knowing the result - I daren't go near news sites or Twitter if I'm planning on watching sports highlights later.

I also found out the hard way that the online Eurosport feed can have a slight delay - not an issue today, obviously, but it ruined a couple of sprint finishes for me in last year's Tour de France.

It was ever thus, though - I think it was Jimmy Hill who once began the BBC FA Cup Final highlights saying "You join us at the winner's banquet where [insert team] are celebrating..." which must have hacked a few people off.

As for Armstrong, fact is that the numbers show that for whatever reason, he is still pretty much the cyclist most people want to read about. And if you think the media circus has gone into overkill on his comeback, it's nothing compared to what will happen this week when Tiger Woods lines up at the Masters...

Fringe | 14 years ago

quality effort by Boonen as well, maybe next sunday will be his day..

also noticed over on the Teamsky website that a picture of Flecha sees him sporting a almost 'air vent -less skid lid', possibly to keep his quaffer'd hair in place and outa the rain or is that one of their minimal/marginal gain thingys..

kittyfondue | 14 years ago

I love that man with every fibre of my being. What a phenomenal ride. What a phenomenal rider!

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