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Alessandro Ballan animated the race when he attacked with less than 20 kilometers to go. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Alessandro Ballan animated the race when he attacked with less than 20 kilometers to go. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

BMC Racing Team Finishes 3-4 At Tour of Flanders

1. April 2012

Alessandro Ballan finished third and Greg Van Avermaet was fourth Sunday for the BMC Racing Team at the Tour of Flanders as Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won for the third time.

Ballan Tries Shaking Boonen
Winner of this race in 2007, Ballan scored the fifth top 10 finish of his career at "Ronde van Vlaanderen" by narrowly avoiding a crash on the penultimate climb of the Paterberg and splitting the race on the last of three ascents of the Oude Kwaremont. Only Boonen and eventual runner-up Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) could go with the former world road champion when he made his move with 18 kilometers left in the 256.9 km race. "The race was really hard and the first 100 kilometers were very fast," Ballan said. "I tried to attack several times in the final kilometers, but Boonen was too strong. For me, it was a good performance." After putting in three attacks in the final four kilometers, Ballan couldn't respond when Boonen began his sprint to the line at 300 meters. The podium placing was Ballan's fourth top 10 finish of the year, adding to a fourth at Strade Bianche, eighth at Milan-San Remo and ninth at E3-Harelbeke.

Well-Executed Plan
Van Avermaet won the field sprint 38 seconds later to earn his best Flanders finish and register his fifth top 10 placing of the season. BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said having two riders in the top five – and no one injured in crashes ahead of next Sunday's Paris-Roubaix – capped an admirable day for the team. "We knew we would have to stay quiet in the first part, make the numbers and then be a strong team in the final," Lelangue said. "Once we had Ballan in the front, of course we had to ride with Boonen and Pozzato. Having Ballan there and Greg in the second group means we were ready for a sprint with Greg if it came back together."

Hincapie Makes History
BMC Racing Team's George Hincapie, by finishing in 52nd place, bettered Briek Schotte's record for Tour of Flanders finishes by completing his 17th edition of the Belgian classic. The three-time U.S. national road champion said it was a record he would have never imagined owning when he started racing 19 seasons ago. "This is one of the hardest races in the world so a guy from New York jumping in and breaking the record for the Tour of Flanders is pretty cool," Hincapie said. "Unless you really know about cycling or racing in Belgium, it's hard to describe how big this race is or how important it is in the cycling world."

Post-race interviews with BMC Racing Team riders (in several languages) can be downloaded here from the BMC Racing Team AudioLine.

Click here to view photos from the race.