Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) proved that he is still a very capable sprinter by taking his second victory at the Brussels Cycling Classic. After a great lead-out from his team, he powered up the uphill finishing straight and narrowly held off Arnaud Demare (FDJ), with Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), completing the podium.
The 96th edition of the Belgian classic was held on a traditional 199.3km course that both started and finished in Brussels. After a relatively flat start, the riders faced a total of 13 small climbs in typical lumpy Belgian terrain. However, the final climb was located 35km from the finish and from there it was a flat run back to Brussels where an uphill finishing straight welcomed the riders.
I’m very proud of the victory today,” Boonen said to the press at the finish line in Brussels. “Not only did I beat a few fast guys, but there was also a discussion last night about who was going to do the sprint and I asked for the opportunity to show that I had good condition.”
“If you ask that, and you can deliver, then it’s always double the reason to be happy. If you ask for that pressure to win the race and you lose, that’s a different story. That’s why I am happier than normal that I could finish it off today.”
“After the Classics this year, with Paris-Roubaix, I felt that I was improving again after the injury to my skull last year,” Boonen said.
“From that point on I said, ‘OK, if I can improve a little bit more and get to my old level again then I will be a very happy guy,’ and that injury was only a year ago now.”
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