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A heavy favorite for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, Tom Boonen did everything right and his Eddy Merckx EMX-5 bicycle, free of mechanical problems, followed suit. But in the end Boonen was outmatched by Fabian Cancellara’s brute power and he placed second.
All the same, his Quick Step Eddy Merckx was certainly up to the task, and just an hour before the start, we managed a quick look. The crush of fans and supporters even in the cordoned-off VIP area had team staff on edge, but Boonen’s bike was prominently and proudly displayed at the head of the row. Its Belgian flag color scheme made it hard to miss.
Aside from the paint scheme, few technical details set Boonen’s bike apart from the rest of his teammate’s rigs. From what we could see, the entire team rode Ambrosio rims laced to hubs from team wheel sponsor Fast Forward. As with many teams riding Ambrosio for the week, correct sponsor decals covered the rims. Fast Forward is a wheel builder from the Netherlands that debuted at Eurobike. The company is not yet selling its range of lightweight, carbon fiber wheels in the USA but hopes to do so in the near future.
Boonen’s bike sports Look Keo Blade pedals, a Campagnolo Record component group, and a straightforward aluminum Deda handlebar and stem. As with many bikes this week, a chain catcher is fixed to the front derailleur hanger, arcing rigidly toward the small chainring to direct an errant chain back into place onto the ring. Continental tubulars didn’t appear to give him any trouble.
Fortunately for Tom and his team, he’s got another opportunity to pedal the yellow Eddy Merckx in less than a week: Paris-Roubaix. And this time, he hopes to cross the finish line first.