By Andrew Hood
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) shot to the top of the ProTour standings following his dramatic victory in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. The 24-year-old Belgian slipped ahead of Milan-San Remo winner Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) with wins at Flanders and Roubaix.
George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) moved into fourth with 75 points while Bobby Julich (CSC) sits in eighth with 50 points.
Boonen was crowned king of the cobbles on Sunday and the feat made the covers of all the major Belgian dailies. Wednesday’s GP Scheldeprijs will be Boonen’s last race before he takes a “mini-vacation” before rebuilding for the Tour de France and a run at the world title in September.
Quick Step for GP Scheldeprijs
Dimitri De Fauw
UCI ProTour standings after 7 events
1. Tom Boonen (B), 112 points
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I), 93
3. Oscar Freire (Sp), 78
4. George Hincapie (USA), 75
5. Danilo Hondo (G), 70
6. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), 65
7. Thor Hushovd (N), 55
8. Bobby Julich (USA), 50
9. Andreas Klier (G), 41
9. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), 41
Demol: ‘Boonen too strong’
Dirk Demol was a nervous wreck sitting in the Discovery Channel team car behind George Hincapie in Sunday’s Hell of the North. After 11 starts and five top 10 finishes, Hincapie was on the verge of winning Paris-Roubaix, but Demol knew that pipping Tom Boonen in a sprint was one tough challenge.
“He knew he gave it all he could. I think he also realized it was like ‘mission impossible’ to beat Tom today. He looked great all day but he knew if he couldn’t drop him, it would be tough in the final,” Demol told paceline.com. “I think we must be happy with our second place here today and for George’s ride. He had a great day, but what can you say of Boonen? He was unbeatable today. It was one of George’s best days, he didn’t do anything wrong on the bike. Usually afterwards, you say ‘well, we could have done this or should have done that.; But today, he rode the perfect race. The only issue was Boonen. … Every kilometer closer to the finish, we kept thinking ‘how can we beat him?’”
PVP: ‘I’m no actor’
Peter Van Petegem won’t race in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race after crashing out of Paris-Roubaix. The veteran Belgian on Davitamon-Lotto got banged up with a heavy crash and abandoned with cuts, bruises and an injured hip. “I’m no actor,” Van Petegem said after pulling out. “If I say I am hurting, it’s bad. Paris-Roubaix is that way. I will be back.”
Barredo: ‘I like to suffer’
Yet another young Spanish gun shot to the forefront of international cycling when Carlos Barredo, 23, played a key role in the eight-man breakaway that dominated the action until 50km to go in Sunday’s “Hell of the North.”
Just the latest of Manolo Saiz’ stable of young Spanish talent to go along with Luis Leon Sanchez and Alberto Contador, many say it’s just a matter of time before Barredo experiences his breakthrough success.
“Yes, I like to suffer, I like that definition,” Barredo said Sunday. “I believe that’s one of my best qualities as a racer, to be a fighter, because you never have things easy in this sport and I’m not physically blessed either.”
Team CSC proved yet again it can do more with less. Already shorted by injuries to last year’s runner-up Tristan Hoffman and Jakob Piil, Team CSC lined up at Paris-Roubaix as one of the outsiders but finished with Lars Michaelsen fifth and Vladimir Gusev in 12th despite crashing twice.
“Lars rode splendidly and he deserves a lot of credit. He was close to staying with the leading three when Flecha accelerated, but he was one of the main riders on the day,” said Team CSC manager Riis. “We’ve lived up to the expectations we had and I think that we have gotten the most out of a team made up of both experienced riders and rookies.”