Boonen's kiss to remember.
Whoa! Chapeau! What a ride by Tommeke Tornado at the Queen of the Classics. Tom Boonen leveled the competition with a gutsy, well-calculated solo move than put the big Belgian in the record books with his 4th Paris-Roubaix win and the first double-double by any rider. (winning both Ronde van Vlaandren and Paris-Roubaix in the same year two times).
Tommeke's audacious move from 50km out was one from the playbook of past Roubaix winners Ballerini, Tafi, Musseuw and Cancellara. With his win Roubaix on Easter, Tom Boonen has now risen to the level of fellow Belgian classics great Johan Museeuw and with years yet to race, will likely inscribe his name in the pantheon of cycling greats as the best Belgian classics rider ever.
Roger deVlaeminck, known as Mr. Roubaix for his four wins in the Queen of the Classics told Belgian
newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that Boonen's win on Sunday was easy because of the absence of his
main rival Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and the poor performance of the rest. "I hope Cancellara rides next year, then we see a different race," said de Vlaeminck. "I knew before that Boonen would join me. Tom can't help it if this time he had no real opposition. They were not second, but third-rate riders."
Another big tip of the chapeau to Europcar's Sébastien Turgot for his superb runner-up spot at Paris-Roubaix. The relatively unknown 27 year old former trackie from Limoges was active in the final and won the group sprint for second on the Roubaix velodrome. “I never imagined I would be second over the line in my second Paris-Roubaix,” Turgot said. “Sixty kilometers before the finish I tried my chance and I had good legs. In the last corner I had to deal with equipment problems (broken spokes in his back wheel), but I put everything into my second place sprint. I have some experience on the track, which was to advantage. But Boonen proved that he was untouchable, there was no way to bring him back.”
A chapeau as well to Turgot's fellow Frenchman Frédéric Guesdon, the last French rider to win Paris-Roubaix (1997) who retired after the race Sunday. At 40 years of age, Guesdon's Française des Jeux team honored the French classics specialist, who was the first French rider to win a ProTour race at Paris-Tours in 2006. Guesdon crashed at the Tour Down Under and struggled to regain his form for Roubaix. “At one point I thought about quitting. But I found a small group and we rode the Carrefour de l’Arbre at our own pace. To not have regrets, we had to finish Paris-Roubaix." Guesdon finished 88th, almost 19 minutes behind Boonen and just outside the time limit.
Two-time winner of the U23 Paris-Roubaix, BMC's Taylor Phinney didn't disappoint in his WorldTour Paris-Roubaix debut. Once called Mini-Phinney, the 6'4" 21 year old rode well in a supporting role at the service of BMC leader Alessandro Ballan and eventually rode into the Roubaix Velodrome in 15th. "had great legs and no mishaps-perfect combo. Honored 2 finish 15th today. Love this race!" tweeted Taylor about his most excellent Roubaix performance, all the better because his father Davis Phinney, mom Connie Carpenter-Phinney and sister Kelsey were on hand in Roubaix for Taylor's ride.
The Return of the Dolphin - With less than one month to go before his two year suspension ends, Franco Pellizotti is ready for his second act. On May 4th, Pellizotti, nicknamed "the dolphin of Bibbione" for his hometown on the Adriatic coast, is eligible to race again. The 34 year old climbing specialist has been training far from home in Sicily, on the slopes of Monte Etna, continental Europe's highest active volcano. Pellizotti told La Gazetta dell Sport's Luca Gialanella "this whole (suspension) really sucked. For a couple of months I didn't touch my bike. I wanted to quit. But my family and friends have helped me out and encouraged me to get back on the bike because they could see I was not the same without it."
Franco Pellizotti still has the strong support of his tifosi, who didn't take his suspension (or lack of definitive proof of guilt) lying down. Pellizotti has been training well and is hoping to come back to racing at the Giro d'Italia. "I know my manager has been talking to some teams, like Lampre. It would be good to ride with Scarponi and Cunego. I am training hard because I want to be ready for a good comeback." No word yet whether the curly-headed climber will make it back to the gruppo for the Giro d'Italia, but when he does, Franco Pellizotti the corridore will be ready to race.