Eneco Tour Stage 3: Boonen Victorious in Ardooie!
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Tom Boonen said, after Tuesday's 2nd Stage of Eneco Tour, that a bunch sprint comes down to being in the right position in the right moment. He was both on Wednesday, as his leadout brought him to the front with about 2.5km remaining, which put the team in command through the key technical sections before the finishing straight.
Furthermore, despite some chaos in the last kilometer, the Belgian rider waited patiently as other sprinters launched early for the line. Boonen accelerated in the last meters to pass Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) and win the stage, which was the 40th of the road season for Etixx - Quick-Step. Elia Viviani (Team Sky) was 3rd. Boonen now has 135 road victories in his career, including at least one victory every year since his first win in the 2002 season.
The race came back together with 20.5km to go. A final attack by Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) was neutralized soon after. The leadout trains battled for position in the ensuing kilometers, but it was Etixx - Quick-Step who waited until the right moment to gain control of the peloton before the group arrival.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to Stage 4, a 13.9km ITT in Hoogerheide, on Thursday. The time trial could be crucial for the GC contenders of the race.
"Winning is everything, this is why I still do this," Boonen said. "The past week I've worked hard in the sprint, to try and win a stage here. You can tell I'm really happy with this win after three consecutive bunch arrivals. Three times really is a charm! The past two days were okay, but always a little too early. Today actually didn't go perfectly either in the last kilometer. Demare and I touched wheels, but I remained upright. I stuck with it, launched in the last meters and won the stage. I know I don't have a lot of results this year after my crash at Paris-Nice. That's why I really wanted to train again for my sprints, to see what I could salvage out of the last part of my season. Also, in the next races before the UCI World Championship, it's only about sprinting for myself. So, this one gave me some important confidence in that area. I still want to do well on Friday and Sunday. Let's hope we can get more good results in the next days."