LA GRANDE MOTTE, France, July 6, 2009 (AFP) – Belgian sprint specialist Tom Boonen admitted he was impressed by the speed of Columbia’s breakaway 30km before the finish line of Monday’s third stage of the Tour de France.
The 28-year-old was part of the peloton and along with some leading names – such as Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov and defending champion Carlos Sastre – finished 41secs behind Columbia’s stage winner Mark Cavendish.
The breakaway was the key event of the day as it contained seven-times Tour winner Lance Armstrong who bolted up to third in the overall classification from tenth.
And Boonen admitted he was caught by surprise by the speed of Columbia’s breakaway in the later part of the 196.5km stage from Marseille to La Grande Motte.
“It was a good decision by Columbia,” admitted Quick Step’s Boonen, the 2005 world road race champion.
“It came after a corner, they just bolted off and pulled 40 to 50 meters clear, no one saw that coming and I certainly didn’t expect that.
“I was trying to stay cool, but I did wonder how we were going to claw the time back.
“It was a big battle which was won by between eight to ten riders at the front.”