Bounen wins Tour of Flanders

Bounen wins Tour of Flanders

OUDENAARDE, Belgium- The Associated Press
Tom Boonen won the Tour of Flanders for the third time in his career, beating Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan in a three-way sprint yesterday.

On the penultimate climb, the three broke away with 18 kilometers to go in the daylong race. In an open sprint to the line, Boonen held a bike-length margin over Pozzato for his first Tour of Flanders win since 2006.

Crashes marked the final stages of the classic with favorite Fabian Cancellara the biggest victim. Initial reports said he broke his collarbone.

Boonen finished the 256-kilometer race in 6 hours 04:33 minutes. Belgian Greg Van Avermaet finished fourth, 38 seconds behind, beating Peter Sagan of Slovakia, Dutchman Niki Terpstra and Italian Luca Paolini.

Boonen had been the man in form with victories in two other Belgian classics over the past two weeks - the E3 and Gent-Wevelgem races.

“The two scared me in the finale. They know each other well,” he said of the two Italians. Ballan tried to escape twice in the final stages, and each time it was Boonen who had to close the gap. And against the fast Pozzato, Boonen had enough reserves. “I didn’t have much left but it was enough,” said Boonen.

The riders move to northern France for Paris-Roubaix next Sunday, the cobblestone classic that Boonen has already won three times. “I already have a triple and it is my favorite race,” Boonen said.