In an interview in the current May edition of procycling, Tom Boonen reveals that the two races he wants to win above all others are the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. After realising his Flanders dream last Sunday, the 24-year-old Belgian achieved the second part of that double when he led home George Hincapie and Juan Antonio Flecha on the Roubaix velodrome this afternoon.
A strong favourite for success in the 'hell of the north' after that Flanders triumph, Boonen was in the thick of the action when it mattered. With 80 kilometres left he was one of six riders who broke clear and went off in pursuit of an eight-strong group that had been away since well before the first section of cobbles. With Boonen were Hincapie and Flecha, plus Fabian Cancellara, Lars Michaelsen and defending champion Magnus Backstedt.
The leading eight were caught and dropped by this sextet of pre-race favourites with about 50km remaining. Fassa Bortolo lost one of their cards when Cancellara fell back with mechanical problems, while first Michaelsen and then Backstedt were dropped on the cobbles 16km from home.
Boonen was driving the leading group at this point, and he looked back to see what damage he had done, no doubt pleased to find that two dangerous rivals had yielded. This left the nippy Hincapie as the Belgian's most likely rival in the deciding sprint, as Fassa's Flecha is quick in a finish but not in the same class as the other two.
Discovery Channel's Hincapie, enjoying the best Roubaix of his career, led onto the velodrome in Roubaix, but Flecha took the lead going into the final lap. Boonen sat at the back of the trio, waiting to make his move. The three riders went up the banking on the last bend, and the Belgian was the first to jump down from there and begin his sprint for the finish.
Hincapie was the quickest to respond, but the American could not prevent his former US Postal team-mate wrapping up his second 'monument' in eight days and with it leadership of the ProTour standings.
"This is a dream for me," said Boonen. "Flanders and Roubaix are the two races I've wanted to win the most, and I've now won them both. This gives me a huge amount of confidence for the rest of the season. I'm going to go on holiday now and try to find new motivation for my remaining two goals this season, which are to win the points title at the Tour de France and the Worlds."
If the Belgian can show the form he has done over the past month or so those new goals might just be achieved as well.
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 259km in 6.29.38 (39.88kph)
2 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo
4 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas-Bianchi 1.09
5 Lars Michaelsen (Den) CSC 2.43
6 Leon van Bon (Hol) Davitamon-Lotto 3.49
7 Florent Brard (Fra) Agritubel
8 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo
9 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
10 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis