Boonen new leader of the UCI ProTour
Belgiumâ€™s Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is the new leader of the UCI ProTour after winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen race in Belgium on Sunday.
Boonen beat fellow Belgian Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel) in a sprint finish after the two broke away 32km from the finish of the windswept race. Hosteâ€™s team mate George Hincapie finished third, leading home the chasers, 1-17 behind Boonen.
Boonen is the current road race World Champion and so will wear a special combined white UCI ProTour and rainbow jersey in Wednesdayâ€™s Gent-Wevelgem race, the next one-day race event on the season-long UCI ProTour calendar.
The 25 year-old Belgian star has a total of 89 points after also scoring vital points for finishing fourth in the Milan-San Remo race and for winning three stages in the Paris-Nice race.
Italyâ€™s Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) is second in the individual rankings with 70 points, while early UCI ProTour leader Floyd Landis of the USA is now third with 52 points.
Boonen was the big favourite for the historic Flemish race after winning the magical triple of the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the UCI Road World Championships race in 2005 and yet he still came out on top.
â€śItâ€™s nice to win a big race when youâ€™re the big favourite, when you go in the moment when everybodyâ€™s expecting you to go and everybody knows that youâ€™re riding for first place but canâ€™t catch you. Itâ€™s a very nice feeling,â€ť Boonen said with a smile after pulling on the UCI ProTour leaderâ€™s jersey.
Discovery Channel leads team rankings
Thanks to second and third place at the Rande van Vlaanderen the Discovery Channel team took control of the UCI ProTour team rankings.
Lance Armstrongâ€™s former team have 71 points and are now 12 points clear of the Gerolsteiner team of Germany who have a total of 59 points.
Team CSC are third with 55 points and Phonak are fifth, also with 55 points.
Italy retained the lead in the nations ranking, increasing their total to 232 points. Thanks to Boonenâ€™s inspiring riding, Belgium moved up to second place with a total of 161 points. Spain are third with 138 points.
Intense and exciting racing
The next few days of the cycling season are set to offer some intense and exciting racing with UCI ProTour races in both Spain and Northern Europe.
The Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco stage race starts in northern Spain on Monday and lasts until Saturday, while Boonen and the other classics riders will ride the Gent-Wevelgem one-day race in Belgium on Wednesday and then Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.