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Tom Boonen

In the spring of 2005, a lot of people wondered whether the young Tom Boonen would be able to stay the distance. 260 kilometres. That’s not quite the same as the semi-classics that he won in 2004 such as the E3-Prijs, the Scheldeprijs and Gent-Wevelgem. "Tornado Tom" gave all the critics a run for their money by securing a place in the lead group of six racers in the finish alongside big names such as Klier, Van Petegem and Zabel. Nine kilometres from the finish Boonen even caught up with Van Petegem, who was giving everything for his third victory in the race. Boonen didn’t wait for the final moment, but made an audacious solo attack. The others hesitated for a fraction of a second, but the bird had flown.

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At the age of just 24, Boonen won his first Tour of Flanders; it was the start of a dream year. One week later he turned it into a double win with his Paris –Roubaix victory, later that year he also won two stages in the Tour de France, and to cap it all he was named World Cycling Champion in Madrid. The "curse of the rainbow jersey" did not fall upon Boonen. At the beginning of 2006 he won one race after another and started as a big favourite in the Tour of Flanders. His team mastered the race perfectly and when Leif Hoste broke away on the Valkenberg, Boonen stuck right on his heels. In a sprint between the two, the much slower Hoste was no match for Boonen who won the Tour as world champion. A milestone in his stunning career. 

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In the years that followed, Boonen did not succeed in turning events to his favour and he watched from the second row as his team mate Stijn Devolder won twice. These were not the happiest years for the “Bomb from Balen", and a cocaine scandal and a loss of physical condition had a lot of people writing him off prematurely. Especially when an impressive Fabian Cancellara got ahead of Boonen on the Muur in Geraardsbergen. But Boonen hit back and crowned himself King of the spring in 2012. He was the first racer to win a completely new version of the Tour of Flanders. After a tough Tour of Flanders which included a triple climb of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, he beat the Italians Ballan and Pozzato in Oudenaarde in the sprint.

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still 38 days and off we go!
Flanders Classics