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For weeks Tom Boonen had been the big favourite to win this year's Paris-Roubaix - a status that only intensified after he took the Tour of Flanders trophy for the second consecutive year last week. Could Boonen do a double double?
Everything seemed to be on schedule when 'Tornado Tom' entered the Arenberg Forest pav in front. 2.4 kilometres further down the course Boonen was part of the 17-man strong front group, but at the cost of his team-mates, none of whom made it into the group, writes Susanne Horsdal.
"That's not the reason why I didn't win. The reason is that Cancellara attacked before me. I was just thinking about doing the same thing and wanted to attack on the left side but on one turn Flecha came through and I had to brake. I think that's where I cracked," admitted Boonen.
He tried to make it back up to the front but had to accept a place in the second chase group with Alessandro Ballan and Juan Antonio Flecha following Cancellara's acceleration.
"He was the strongest guy in the race. Also Flecha and [George] Hincapie were strong. It was a fair race. I wasn't as strong as last Sunday. But I felt good, and maybe if I had been a half per cent better I could have gone with Cancellara and then it would have been a different finale," said the world champion.
Initially he sprinted home for fifth spot but was later promoted to second place after the disqualification of Hoste, Van Petegem and Gusev for not stopping at a train crossing. Boonen's group, who were about 30 seconds behind them, didn't have the chance to cross before the train passed.
"It was funny. Suddenly, in the final you stand and watch the birds fly by and wait for a train to pass," said Boonen, who had to wait 15 seconds before he could resume racing. But, ironically, this stop promoted to second place. Not that he recognised it, though.
"I don't agree with the disqualification. My real position was fifth," said the defending champion.
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