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Spring Classics – Who is Fit and Healthy?

As expected this was an aggressive race with the Tour of Flanders next week all the top specialists are really coming into form now. Tom Boonen is always under pressure to deliver in front of his home fans. He showed up fit and healthy and didn’t fail through lack of trying!

We had the usual “get the team jersey on television” break early on, but the real race started when Boonen stormed up the Taaienberg, immediately splitting the peloton. This first attack was neutralized, but when he went again on the Paterberg the decisive break was made.

Only Fabian Cancellara and Juan Antonio Flecha could stay with Boonen on the climb, so with 42km to the finish, it was really between these three. Last years winner Pippo Pozzato valiantly chased on his own, but every time he got close Boonen opened up the gas to extend their lead again.

With Boonen the favourite in a sprint Flecha and Cancellara had to attack. Surprisingly and partly due to the closeness of the chasers the three stayed together until one kilometer to go. Sparticus caught the other two napping and had a small gap.

Flecha rightly made Boonen chase, but as many have found before, catching a fit and healthy Cancellara is no easy task and he was gone! Boonen got second and Flecha third.

So Cancellara completed a great week for Saxo Bank after Matti Breschel’s win mid week. Should help in the search for a new sponsor!

This E3 was a dress rehearsal for next weeks Tour of Flanders, these three and Pozzato are all clearly fit and healthy so expect all four to play a major part at the Ronde.

Gent Wevelgem followed yesterday and despite the tougher course, the second climb of the Kemmelberg still proved to be the decisive point in the race.

The in form Matti Breschel proved again that the Saxo Bank team is motivated, fit and healthy. His attack on the Kemmel split the field, but he was unlucky to puncture and couldn’t rejoin the break he started. Despite a big chase behind, the lead group stayed away, to contest the win.

George Hincapie led it out, but probably went too early and was passed by Bernhard Eisel of HTC. Sep Vanmarke and Philippe Gilbert rounded out the podium

It’s great to see Eisel win a big race he is one of the unsung workers in the HTC team.

Everyone thought HTC would be weakened by guys like Hincapie and Boasson-Hagen leaving, but they know how to win and other riders are really stepping up. Incidentally what happened to last years winner EBH still not recovered from being sick at Milan – San Remo?

So we can see who is ready for the two biggest cobbled classics the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. To win one of these being fit and healthy is not enough. These races are wars of attrition you also need huge determination, a strong team and one other essential element – luck!

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