Three years — that’s how long it’s been since Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step) won a WorldTour race, and on Wednesday, he broke the drought in stage 3 of the Eneco Tour. The 34-year-old classics star capitalized on ideal positioning and patience in the technical run-in to Ardooie, Belgium. At the end of the 171.9km race, Arnaud Démare hit out early, looking like the fastest finisher. But the cunning Boonen waited and made a perfectly timed jump to win the day.
“Winning is everything, this is why I still do this,” Boonen said. “The past week, I’ve worked hard in the sprint, to try and win a stage here. You can tell I’m really happy with this win after three consecutive bunch arrivals. Three times really is a charm!”
Top 10, stage 3
- 1. Tom BOONEN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, in 3:54:25
- 2. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at :00
- 3. Elia VIVIANI, TEAM SKY, at :00
- 4. Andrea GUARDINI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :00
- 5. Dylan GROENEWEGEN, ROOMPOT ORANJE PELOTON, at :00
- 6. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00
- 7. Rudiger SELIG, TEAM KATUSHA, at :00
- 8. Sacha MODOLO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :00
- 9. Danny VAN POPPEL, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :00
- 10. Roy JANS, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :00
- 1. Jesper ASSELMAN, ROOMPOT ORANJE PELOTON, in 12:13:20
- 2. Tom BOONEN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :01
- 3. Elia VIVIANI, TEAM SKY, at :01
- 4. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :05
- 5. Edward THEUNS, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at :06
- 6. Danny VAN POPPEL, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :09
- 7. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at :09
- 8. Jacopo GUARNIERI, TEAM KATUSHA, at :09
- 9. Gijs VAN HOECKE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at :09
- 10. Frederik VEUCHELEN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :09
There was a late attack by Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), before the final lap of racing, but otherwise, the peloton was together and in control for a bunch sprint.
Orica-GreenEdge and Lotto-Soudal set up dueling sprint trains ahead of the final three kilometers. Coming into the technical last kilometer, Etixx-Quick-Step took control. Démare came up from way back in the field, swinging across the front of the field early, ending up on the right. Boonen was well-positioned and jumped off the Frenchman’s wheel in the final few hundred meters to win. Elia Viviani (Sky) was third, behind Démare.
Today actually didn’t go perfectly either in the last kilometer,” Boonen continued. “Démare and I touched wheels, but I remained upright. I stuck with it, launched in the last meters, and won the stage.
Jesper Asselman (Roompot) kept the GC lead after stage 3, but Thursday’s stage 4 time trial in Hoogerheide will likely reshuffle the overall. Although short at 13.9km, the individual test should be decisive.