Paris-Roubaix 2012: Tom Boonen Storms to Victory on a Sunday in Hell

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IApril 8, 2012

ROUBAIX, FRANCE - APRIL 06:  Pre-race favourite Tom Boonen of Belgium and Quick Step Omega Pharma rideso n the cobbles during training for the 2012 Paris - Roubaix Cycle Race on April 6, 2012 in Roubaix, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Tom Boonen has turned the clock back seven years after he claimed a stunning victory over the tortuous cobblestones of the Hell of the North—the Paris-Roubaix—and again claimed the double after last week’s gritty victory at the Tour of Flanders.

It continues his rich vein of form, bringing up his ninth victory of the season.

Paris-Roubaix is a race that demands a superhuman effort both physically and mentally.

The riders take a pounding on roads designed for passage by horse and cart, made even more difficult by the dry, slippery dust that coats the stones. It takes tremendous concentration and bike control to stay out of trouble for the duration of the 257 km race distance.

Boonen is a big man. At 192 cm (6’4”) and 82 kg, he stands out amongst typical professional cyclists, but he handled his bike like he was a featherweight whilst delivering the power that only a big man can.

While most mortals would have still been in bed recovering from last week’s ride over similarly brutal roads of the Tour of Flanders, Boonen looked comfortable and in control for the whole race—he even rode without the gloves that afford the riders some modicum of shock absorption.

It was not just the fact that he won that was remarkable, it was the emphatic nature of the win. No one was going to challenge him today.

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A crash with 109 km remaining split the peloton in half and while no one was injured, the delay finished the race for half the field.

WALLERS, FRANCE - APRIL 06:  Two Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders make their way over the cobbles of the Arenberg Forest during training for the 2012 Paris - Roubaix Cycle Race on April 6, 2012 in Wallers, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

It was again the sector through the Arenberg Forest where the pivotal move took place. On the most brutal section of cobblestones, the cream always rises and it was where Boonen turned up the heat on his competitors.

A crash in this section further broke up what remained of the peloton, taking out 12 riders in total.

With 55 km to go, Boonen and Omega-Pharma Lotto teammate Niki Terpstra combined to destroy fellow breakaway companions Alessandro Ballan of Team BMC and Filippo Pozzato of Farnese-Selle Italia.

Boonen then rode away from Terpstra and never looked like being caught.

Dutch rider Lars Boom from team Rabobank started to pull Boonen back with about 16 km to go, but he was unable to sustain the effort and Boonen rode away to win by over 1’30” from Team Europcar’s Sebastien Turgot and Allesandro Ballan, who may well have dead-heated for second.

While Boonen’s dominance in these two races is unquestioned, we may well have been robbed of two all-time great races when Fabian Cancellara crashed out in last week’s race.

Cancellara would have needed to be at the peak of his form, but it would have been brilliant to see.

Boonen’s emphatic victory brings his total to four wins in the Paris-Roubaix, joining Belgian compatriot Roger De Vlaeminck as the riders with the most cobblestone trophies on their mantlepiece.

Race Standings

2. TURGOT Sébastien 151 TEAM EUROPCAR 5h 57' 01" + 01' 39"
3. BALLAN Alessandro 31 BMC RACING TEAM 5h 57' 01" + 01' 39"
4. FLECHA GIANNONI Juan Antonio 51 SKY PROCYCLING 5h 57' 01" + 01' 39"
5. TERPSTRA Niki 15 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 5h 57' 01" + 01' 39"
6. BOOM Lars 22 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 5h 57' 05" + 01' 43"
7. TOSATTO Matteo 121 TEAM SAXO BANK 5h 58' 53" + 03' 31"
8. HAYMAN Mathew 54 SKY PROCYCLING 5h 58' 53" + 03' 31"
9. VAN SUMMEREN Johan 1 GARMIN - BARRACUDA 5h 58' 53" + 03' 31"
10. WYNANTS Maarten 28 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 5h 58' 53" + 03' 31"
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