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Alessandro Ballan (left) was just edged out at the line for second place at Paris-Roubaix. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Alessandro Ballan (left) was just edged out at the line for second place at Paris-Roubaix. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

Ballan's Podium Finish Leads Three In Top 15 At Roubaix

8. April 2012

Alessandro Ballan was third and Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney finished 14th and 15th, respectively, for the BMC Racing Team as Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) equaled the race record for victories Sunday by soloing the final 53 kilometers to win his fourth Paris-Roubaix.

Photo Finish For Second
It took a photo to decide whether Ballan was second or third in the five-up sprint for second, 1:39 after Boonen took his victory lap around the Roubaix velodrome. Ultimately, it was determined Sébastien Turgot (Team Europcar) edged out Ballan after the former world road champion sprinted from the back of the group on his new BMC granfondo GF01 with 200 meters to go. "I'm not fast in the sprint and I don't have the history in the velodrome, so it was hard for me," Ballan said. "Tom was just too strong. I didn't think it was possible for him to finish alone because we had four or five riders from Sky and two from Rabobank in my group." That group saw Boonen make his winning move by breaking away with his teammate, Niki Terpstra, with 55 kilometers to go, only to have Terpstra get a flat a few kilometers later.

Some Good, Some Bad
The BMC Racing Team had its share of good luck and bad in the 257.5 km cobbled classic. When a crash split the peloton after 142 km, all but Manuel Quinziato made the front group. But inside the final 75 kilometers, George Hincapie punctured in the Arenberg forest, Hushovd crashed rounding a corner and even the BMC Racing Team car was briefly sidelined with a flat tire."That's part of the game, that's the hell of the north," BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said. "But Alessandro proved one more time that he's in really good shape. He was one of our two protected leaders and we're happy to have him on the podium two times in one week in the big monuments." Ballan, who already had a pair of third-place finishes at Roubaix (2006, 2008) to his credit, registered his fifth top 10 finish of the season. He has been best for the BMC Racing Team at the Tour of Flanders (third), Strade Bianche (fourth), Milan-San Remo (eighth) and E3-Harelbeke (ninth).

Hushovd 'Gave It Everything'
Hushovd said despite his hard crash with 60 km to go – which left a large abrasion on his left thigh – he wasn't about to give up. "I just never gave up. I knew I had good legs. I gave it everything," the former world road champion said. "I'm disappointed because I haven't done a good spring season and today I did a perfect race except for a stupid mistake." Fourteen seconds after Hushovd finished, Phinney out-sprinted nine other riders to earn his 15th place finish. "It was quite hard but honestly I felt amazing today," the former U.S. national time trial champion said. "I had great legs, stayed safe and did a lot of work on the front. I tried to help out Danilo (Wyss) when we got toward the Arenberg. I just missed that front split but for the amount of work I did, I'm happy with the way I finished."

Hincapie's Record Finish
After crashing once and receiving a new rear wheel from Wyss with 85 km to go, Hincapie reached the finish line in 43rd place, 7:46 behind Boonen. In doing so, the BMC Racing Team's road captain bettered the record for Paris-Roubaix finishes with 17. "I came out relatively unscathed," the three-time U.S. national road champion said. "This is such a hard race. From the guys who are getting first, to the guys who are getting last, everyone puts everything they have into it. You're completely exhausted, but it's what people dream about – coming into the velodrome. It's definitely a special feeling."

Click here to see photos from the race.

Listen to post-race comments from riders and Directeur Sportif John Lelangue on the BMC Racing Team AudioLine:
www.bmcracingteam.com/news/audio-line/