- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

ROUBAIX, FRANCE (AP) - A motorcycle crashed into fans watching the Paris-Roubaix cycling race, a one-day classic won by Belgium’s Tom Boonen.

The motorcycle appeared to lose control and swerved sideways into the side of the road Sunday. Television images showed several spectators on the ground. It was not immediately known how many were injured or if the injuries were serious.

Boonen broke away from the pack about 10 miles from the finish and comfortably won one of cycling’s toughest classics a third time. Italy’s Filippo Pozzato was 47 seconds behind, and Norway’s Thor Hushovd was third, 1 minute, 17 seconds back.

Last year, Boonen beat former champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland in a sprint finish. He also won in 2005.

This year’s race covered 161 miles and ended in the northern French town of Roubaix. The route featured a 33-mile ride over punishing cobblestones.

Hushovd and Leif Hoste of Belgium and Juan Antonio Flecha of Spain lost valuable time after falling at the one of the several cobblestone sections. Hushovd had looked strong enough to challenge Boonen on the final stretch, but his chances of victory ended when he went too wide on a turn and his front wheel slipped, causing him to tumble off his bike.

Boonen pulled away and Pozzato was unable to match his burst of acceleration, quickly losing 10 seconds and then gradually more time. As he approached the finish in the Roubaix velodrome, Boonen looked several times over his shoulder but no riders were close.

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