Tom Boonen wins RideLondon Classic
The 35-year-old scored his second victory in the space of a week, taking Etixx - Quick-Step's 2016 win tally to 40.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said that "great ambition is the passion of great a character" and if there's a rider in the current peloton who can be seen as the epitome of these words, that's Tom Boonen. The Belgian proved again that age is just a number, passion and ambition being the quintessential factors that drive a rider in his permanent quest for victories and strong results, as he won the most important one-day race in the United Kingdon, RideLondon Classic (202 kilometers), which took place on Sunday.
It was for the first time in three years that the event came down to a bunch sprint, but this happened only after Etixx – Quick-Step and Orica-BikeExchange worked hard at the forefront in order to peg back the seven riders up the road, who at one point enjoyed a four-minute gap. Team Sky had the numbers in the group, with Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas, and tried to take advantage of that, as the Welshman attacked with more than 50 kilometers to go and left his fellow escapees in the dust, building an advantage which looked to be insurmountable.
But the energy spent by the Etixx – Quick-Step riders at the head of the bunch paid off, as all the seven breakaway riders were pulled back, Thomas being the last one to wave the flag inside the final five kilometers. Protected by his teammates, who nullified a late move of Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Tom Boonen found a breach at the front through which he powered away in the closing 250 meters, beating Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) and Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) by more than a bike length.
"I am very happy. It was a hard race, as everyone was going bananas all day long. I was dropped twice, punctured once and suffered as I chased the pack, but managed to return to the main group every time. It was only with about 50 kilometers to go that we started to pull behind the break and it finally came back together with 5 kilometers left", said 35-year-old Tom, who praised his teammates for their fantastic effort. "The guys got well-organized going into the last corner and I could launch my sprint from the right side of the road. I'm very happy with how things went and with getting this victory in front of the British fans, who were great as always."
Sunday's victory on The Mall – Tom's second in the space of just a week – capped off a great July for Etixx – Quick-Step, the second month of the summer witnessing seven wins of the team, in the Tour de France, Tour de Pologne, Tour de Wallonie and RideLondon Classic.
Photo credit: Eddie Keogh/Silverhub for Prudential RideLondon