Tom Boonen capped off a highly successful week for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team, winning stage 7 of Tour de San Luis in a circuit race sprint finish. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini -Selle Italia) placed second, and Mauro Richeze (Team Nipo) placed third. "I'm very happy, I really wanted to win," said Boonen, who hasn't raised his arms in victory since the 2011 Gent Wevelgem. "Today's is not the victory of one rider, but of 6 team players who once again have proved their mettle. Initially we just let the race take its course. With 15 kilometers to go to the arrival we went to work. Everyone including (Levi) Leipheimer did a great job for me. In the final (Francesco) Chicchi led me. The speed was very fast but I managed to find a good trajectory and victory was its outcome. It's a nice feeling to taste victory again." Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Levi Leipheimer also won Tour de San Luis, finishing with a total time of 26:32.55.
He secured the victory by finishing 55th in a stage 7 circuit on Sunday, with the rest of the peloton. He bested Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Bank) by 46 seconds in the general classification (GC). Leipheimer is the first stage race winner for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team in 2012.
The 167.1 km circuit race came back together with 20 km remaining, on a hot day where temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsuis (100 degrees Farenheit). Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team reportedly worked hard to set up Boonen for the sprint finish despite the heat and chaos of a circuit race.
Leipheimer first acquired the leader's jersey after stage 4, when he beat Contador by a minute in the 19.5 km time trial. Contador attempted to get time back in stage 5, which featured a 8.5 percent gradient finish over 6.4 kilometers. Leipheimer stuck to Contador's wheel for much of the final kilometer, which had a finishing gradient of 15.5 percent, but Contador's final attack in the final meters was enough to earn him a five second victory against third place finishing Leipheimer. Daniel Diaz (SLS) placed second.
Contador could not gain any more time in stage 6, which came down to a sprint finish. Leipheimer and Contador crossed the line together, at 27th and 28th place, respectively. Stage 7 was the final chance for riders to gain time on Leipheimer, but the circuit race that featured only a category 3 climb made it difficult for riders to make any attacks stick.
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team won four out of seven stages at Tour de San Luis, and finished on the podium for six out of seven stages. Francesco Chicchi won the first two stages in sprint finishes — one of those was a 1-2 race result for he and Tom Boonen.
"I'm really happy, it was a super fantastic experience to be a part of this team in this enterprise" Leipheimer said. "We worked well together and we all made sacrifices for one another; this is why we were successful. I'm thrilled to have assisted with Chicchi's victories - he seems to have rediscovered his stride – and with Tom, who hadn't had a win in a while. On this team no one balks when they're asked to do a job."