Belgian Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the 2012 Tour of Flanders ahead of Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC), the trio had escaped from the remains of the peloton with 18 km to go. In the final 2 kms the Italian riders tried unsuccessfully to put a plan in place to defeat Boonen. First Ballan, the weakest sprinter among them, tried several attacks to escape but Boonen covered every attack. Pozzato waited for the sprint hoping to come around a tired Boonen, who was also almost dropped by Pozzato on the final climb of the Paterberg, but Boonen was not be denied his third Tour of Flanders victory.
Fabian Cancellara was involved in a feed zone crash with 68 km to go that resulted in a quadruple break of his collarbone.
The race with 2 km to go:
"I was worried about heading to the finish with those Italians. They know each other well and I feared that they would kill me, but the strong headwind was my ally," said Boonen. "I had to count on my sprint. I started too early and didn't have much left but it was enough."
Pozzato said, "I had the impression that Boonen was tired and that I could beat him but in the last five kilometers he proved just the opposite. In the sprint he can build on his explosive skills. I'm sorry we did not win, because I know that only victories count, the rest are just words. But I'm happy to be going strong and feeling good. Many did not believe in me, they said that I would not succeed. I am happy to have shown them where I am now and where I can get to."
"On the final ascent of the Paterberg we had a gap on Boonen, and I thought we would head to Oudenaarde with the two of us but he held on. Among the three I was definitely the slowest in the sprint," said Ballan. "I tried to anticipate the sprint, but Boonen always got on my wheel. He had a great race but we Italians made a good impression I think. If Cancellara were still in the race and we were the four in front perhaps the results would have been different. I'm enjoying this beautiful podium result and looking forward to the next important rendezvous (Paris-Roubaix next Sunday)."
By winning his third Tour of Flanders, Tom Boonen joins Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman and Johan Museeuw as triple winners.
George Hincapie broke the record for most finishes in the Tour of Flanders: now 17, surpassing the record of 16 by Briek Schotte.
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep km. 255 in 6h04'33"
2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia s.t.
3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team, at 1"
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team, at 38"
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
7. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
8. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
9. Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team
10.Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
Judith Arndt won, for the second time, the Women's Tour of Flanders.
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