This report filed April 2, 2006
Proving once again that he thrives under pressure, Belgian superstar Tom Boonen shouldered the hopes of Belgium's cycling fans and delivered a win for the home team. With the world champion's rainbow stripes wrapped around his chest, and a real live rainbow arching in the sky overhead, Boonen beat the odds on Sunday to become the first man to win the Tour of Flanders two times in a row since Eric Leman did it in 1972 and '73.Full results
If that sort of splendor wasn't enough to get the yellow, lion-emblazoned Flanders flags flying - and the countless roadside plastic cups of beer tipping - Boonen's next rainbow trick likely did: The 25-year-old was the first man to win Flanders while wearing the world champion's jersey since his legendary compatriot Eddy Merckx did so in 1975.
In third place was Discovery Channel's George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong's old lieutenant. When I was a junior (meaning and "18 and under" bike racer), I raced in many George Hincapie dominated events. When he was there, you knew the odds were stacked against you. I salute all of the finishers of this grueling 258 km death march of a race, especially the ones on the podium. -AT