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Late-race crash relegates Boonen to last place in Algarve

Though Etixx – Quick-Step was celebrating a victory on Wednesday after stage 1 of Volta ao Algarve, the team’s classics star, Tom Boonen, was delayed by a crash in the race’s closing kilometers and had to settle for last place.

Boonen is coming back from a serious injury suffered last fall in the Abu Dhabi Tour, but fortunately, he did not hit the pavement in Portugal. The 35-year-old Belgian had to wait for a spare bike, due to a broken front wheel. He then cruised in to the finish with teammate Yves Lampaert, who was tangled in the crash at one of the roundabouts, with eight kilometers to go.

The 2016 season may be Boonen’s last big chance to break the record for wins at Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen — or both. “I am just as motivated now as I was in my first years as a pro, maybe even more so, because I won’t have that many more chances. These big races are the ones that I live for. All the training and work for months goes into just a few special days. That’s why I love the classics,” he told VeloNews earlier this winter.