Put your hand up if you didn't watch Paris-Roubaix and gasp in awe after seeing Tom Boonen cross the finishing line. If you didn't put your hand up you should be truly ashamed and as my history teacher you should have your head whacked by a large trout. Boonen's victory just oozed panache, it was a ride reminiscent of a greater time in cycling one with stars like Merckx, De Vlaeminck and Hinault, a time which is now long gone.
With 52km to go in Paris-Roubaix Tom Boonen went on the attack a move which both shocked and amazed me in equal quantities. Boonen, one of the world's best sprinters and riders of cobblestones went on a move which made no sense what so ever. He was risking everything by attacking with that far to go, he was the rider with the best form in the peleton and was the best sprinter of the contenders in the lead group. So then why did he attack when it was completely illogical? The answer is clear, Boonen unlike so many riders is not just a cyclist he is an entertainer.
His move looked doomed from the outset, Team Sky still had 4 riders in the bunch yet Tommeke displayed a show of force and from his attack he looked in control the race. As Sky started to shed riders Boonen's gap increased and coming into the Roubaix velodrome he had a minute and a half lead over the now shattered race. I hope over the Ardennes Week we will see similar displays of Panache, riders not just being calculating but appealing to the romantic side of cycling like Boonen showed on Sunday. We don't just want to see racers, we want to see entertainers, that is why everyone loves Voeckler so much, no matter how doomed the situation he never gives up and always races with Panache.
Picture © Fotoreporter Sirotti