Tom Boonen (Quick Step) showed he is on form and ready for the spring classics by winning the Dwars door Vlaanderen race in Waregem on Wednesday.
The former world champion beat Belgian national champion Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques) and Stuart O?Grady (CSC) in a sprint finish after being part of the decisive split in the final climbs of this Tour of Flanders warm-up race. Boonen was looked after by four Quick Step team mates, including a now on-form Peter Van Petegem, and then came round Ecckhout in the final 150 metres to win the Belgian semi-classic for the first time in his career.
Boonen has only been back in Belgium since Monday after a winter of training in Monaco and racing in Qatar, Spain and Paris-Nice but he is clearly ready to try and win his third consecutive Tour of Flanders on Easter Sunday. He pointed t ohis bike as he won, as away of thanknig Specialized for giving him as new, longer frame that eased his recent back problems.
?I am really pleased with this win. I was feeling great and on form before Milano- San Remo and this is the best way to start the northern races,” Boonen said.
It’s special because this is the first time I have ever won this race. I?d like to thank Specialized for the excellent job they have done in providing me with a new bike frame that is roughly 13mm longer than my last one. I?m can now ride at my best without having any back problems?.
In other racing Italy?s Michele Scarponi (Acqua& Sapone) won the second stage of the Coppi& Bartali stage race ahead of early-season revelation Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) and Ausatralia?s Michael Rogers (T-Mobile). Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) surprisingly retired from the race, admitting he was tired both mentally and physically after his intense build-up and painful defeat at Milan-San Remo.
In Spain Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) won his second consecutive stage at the Castilla y Leon stage race. Russia?s Valdimir Karpets (Caisse d?Epargne) was fifth on the stage and kept the overall race lead before the difficult uphill finish to Alto de Navacerrada on Thursday. In France Mattia Gavazzi (Kio-Ene) won both semi-stages at the Tour of Normandy on Wednesday, after also winning Tuesday?s stage.
Results: Dwars door Vlaanderen
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic 201km
2 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-
3 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC
4 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
5 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
6 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Discovery Channel
7 William Bonnet (Fra) Crédit Agricole
8 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
9 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC
10 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas