19-year-old British rider Chris Lawless mixes with the likes of Philippe Gilbert and Tom Boonen in finale of Belgian race

Team Wiggins’s Chris Lawless placed sixth behind Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) at the Grand Prix Cerami in Belgium on Wednesday.

Nineteen-year-old Lawless was part of a lead group of riders that contested the bunch sprint, with Belgian Gilbert coming out on top ahead of Dutchman Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and Belgian Tom De Vriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) in third.

Classics star Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) placed fourth.

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Lawless said that he had ‘fun’ racing against some of his heroes in the single day UCI 1.1-ranked, 211.5-kilometre race. The Wigan man was the only member of Team Wiggins and the only British rider to finish the race.

Lawless, who is part of British Cycling’s Olympic Academy Programme, is enjoying a patch of great form having won the Stockton round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series and the Barrow round of the Tour Series in May.

Gilbert’s victory is his first since returning to racing after being diagnosed with a leg fracture after the Tour de Suisse, meaning that he missed out on Tour de France selection.

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“More important than the win was that my feeling was good on the bike and that was the biggest news of the day for me,” Gilbert said after the race.

“I didn’t have pain the last week in training. But training is always different than a race. So for me, this is very good news for the next month.”

Previous winners of the GP Cerami include Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Alessandro Petacchi and Joop Zoetemelk.

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