Boonen takes third in tough Tour de l’Eurometropole
Etixx – Quick-Step made the race, which took place on Sunday in severe weather conditions.
For the first time in history, the Tour de l'Eurometropole (Poperinge – Tournai, 195.6 kilometers) was raced as a one-day event and this made for a spectacular race, to which the heavy rain and strong crosswinds brought their contribution. Etixx – Quick-Step blew the peloton to pieces early, after just 15 kilometers, and continued to push the pace, making another important selection with 80 kilometers to go, when only 47 riders were left at the front.
Inside the final 60 kilometers, 18 men managed to extricate themselves from that group and as soon as they took their advantage over the pack to three minutes, the riders who wanted to avoid a bunch sprint began attacking. Etixx – Quick-Step responded every time and covered all these moves, with the likes of Fernando Gaviria, Yves Lampaert and Nikolas Maes, who kept the group together.
Then, on the last lap of the race, Yves got clear together with Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) and Marten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo), opening a 30-second gap which looked to put them in pole position for the win, but the chasers weren't keen to let them and the trio got caught just 400 meters away from the finish by the strong chasing group, from which Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) outsprinted Naesen (IAM Cycling) to take the victory.
Tom Boonen finished a fine third, a result which underlines his good condition ahead of the World Championships in Doha, where he is set to lead the Belgian team. It was Tom's seventh top 3 finish of the season, one which saw him win a stage at Tour de Wallonie, RideLondon Classic and the century-old Brussels Classic.
"A big group went from the start, as expected, and we had a couple of riders there. Then, in the last part of the race, we managed to drop some riders of other teams, but unfortunately our main guys, Tom and Fernando, suffered because of the cold temperatures and the legs didn't respond anymore as they would have wanted", said sport director Rik van Slycke, who also explained how the team changed the tactics at that point. "We decided to send Yves at the front and he made it to the last 500 meters with two other riders, but because of tactics they came to a standstill and got swallowed by the group behind. Tom sprinted and came third at the end of the day, which is the best result we could get from that scenario."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele