Belgian sprints to victory in Paris-Roubaix

10th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

ROUBAIX, France, April 10 (AFP) - Belgian sprint star Tom Boonen of the Quick Step team claimed his second win in as many weeks in the 103rd edition of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, the 259km seventh race of the ProTour series, here on Sunday.

ROUBAIX, France, April 10 (AFP) - Belgian sprint star Tom Boonen of the Quick Step team claimed his second win in as many weeks in the 103rd edition of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, the 259km seventh race of the ProTour series, here on Sunday.

Race favourite Boonen, winner of last week's Tour of Flanders, outsprinted American George Hincapie and Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha at the line after 6hr 27min 31sec of racing, to become the new leader of the 27-leg ProTour.

Peter Van Petegem of Belgium, winner in 2003 and among the pre-race favourites, was forced out while Italian veteran Andrea Tafi, winner in 1999 and riding the event for the last time, had a puncture on one of the early cobblestone sections in the race dubbed the "Queen of the Classics".

After a series of mishaps had split the peloton the race kicked into life just as light rain began falling with around 80 kilometres to ride.

Conditions worsened as a group of eight riders, including reigning champion Magnus Backstedt of Sweden, Boonen and Hincapie tried to catch the leaders.

The leading group had formed early on and by the first of the 26 cobblestone sections at Troisvilles after 97.5km, their lead stood at seven minutes.

But their maximum advantage of almost eight minutes was slowly reduced to only two with 60km to go.

As Backstedt's group gave chase the race began to take its toll on some other big name riders behind them.

And as it reached the crucial stages, where a well-placed attack could prove decisive, fancied German rider Steffen Wesemann of T-Mobile began to chase Backstedt's group in the company of Quick Step's Kevin Hulsmans.

The pair were soon joined by Davitamon-Lotto rider Leon Van Bon.

Shortly after the 10th from last cobblestone section, at three kilometres one of the longest of the 54.7km in total, the lead group of 11 was reduced to five as Fassa Bortolo's Fabian Cancellara was dropped with a puncture and the original leaders ran out of juice.

At the front, Hincapie continued to push for a long sought-after classic victory with four other riders in tow, including Backstedt, Boonen, Danish veteran Lars Michaelsen and Flecha.

None of the five came from the same team, and with nine cobblestoned sections and 40km to race it appeared the podium had been decided.

Despite an improvement in the weather, Wesemann's pursuing group struggled to close the gap, as strong crosswinds meant that Boonen's group were virtually uncatchable.

Boonen, Hincapie and Flecha then broke free as they exited the fourth from last cobblestone section, and as the trio battled for supremacy in the Roubaix Velodrome, the Belgian sprint ace held for the line.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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