Germany?s Stefan Schumacher snatched overall victory in the eight-day Benelux Tour ProTour race by a second on Wednesday but it was a controversial win after he brought down main rival and race leader George Hincapie in the sprint.
Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) won the final stage to Liege with a powerful late attack, Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval) was second and Schumacher won the sprint for third to gain a four-second bonus.
However just before the line Schumacher switched across the road and took down Hincapie. The big American sat on the road for several seconds before crossing the line and exchanging a few hostile words with Schumcher. Race judges watched the video of the sprint and decided to give the win to Schumacher.
?I started the sprint on the inside, and as I was going along, one of the spectators caught my left arm. I almost fell and my bike swerved to the right as I tired to avoid him.?
?I can understand that Hincapie is angry and he deserved to win but I didn?t do anything to directly damage him. This is the best win of my career but unfortunately it?s got a bad taste.?
Talented young Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) was third overall at 12 seconds and Gilbert was fourth at 17 seconds.
The ProTour resumes at the weekend with the Vuelta starting in Malaga on Saturday and the one-day GP Plouay in western France on Sunday. Three time stage winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will travel to Glasgow on Monday for the start of the Tour of Britain.
1 Phillippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux 5.05.16
2 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 0.02
3 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Liquigas
5 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems
6 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
7 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
8 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole
9 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Rabobank
10 José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Astana Team
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 27.20.55
2 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.01
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0.12
4 Phillippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux 0.17
5 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas 0.32
6 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank 0.35
7 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 0.53
8 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.55
9 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Skil-Shimano 0.58
10 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick Step-Innergetic 1.01