Philippe Gilbert moved into the overall lead of this year’s Eneco Tour after another impressive showing saw him cruise to victory in today’s third stage.
He attacked on the Cote de la Flime, 7km from the finishing town of Andenne, and never looked liked being caught.
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The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider crossed the line nine seconds ahead of a chasing group which included Britain’s David Millar, and leads Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen by six seconds.
Millar sits well-placed in third, a further nine seconds adrift going into tomorrow’s 14.7km individual time trial in Roermond.
Cheered on by a large home crowd, the Belgian national champion was the favourite heading into the stage, which was undulating throughout.
Several climbs littered the 191km route, including the Mur de Huy, which was tackled far too early to play a contributing role in today’s result.
The race began splitting up on the Chemin des Geuses, some 27km from the finish, with Ben Swift (Team Sky) one of the first to lose contact with the peloton.
Gilbert’s team were working hard at the front of the race, and as soon as he attacked race leader Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was immediately in trouble.
Millar tried responding to the blistering attack, but simply could not match Gilbert’s sheer acceleration.
Luckily for him, Boasson Hagen and a host of others, the chasing group worked cohesively and while they were unable to catch the lone leader, they came home just nine seconds behind Gilbert.
The Belgian took over the race lead by virtue of the ten second prime at the finish, but could well lose it tomorrow with two time trial specialists sitting within 15 seconds of him on GC.
Eneco Tour: Stage 3, Heers-Andenne, 191.2km
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto in 4-54-52
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-ISD at 9 sec
3. Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack
4. Koen De Kort (Neth) Skil-Shimano
5. Dominique Cornu (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
6. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick Step
7. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step
8. Lars Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
10. Greg Van Avaermaet (Bel) BMC Racing all at st
General Classification after stage 3
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky at 6 sec
3. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo at 14 sec
4. Dominique Cornu (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator at 24 sec
5. Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack at 26 sec
6. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-ISD at 33 sec
7. Lars Bak (Den) HTC Highroad at st
8. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing both at 35 sec
9. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step at 36 sec
10. Joost Can Leijen (Neth) Vacansoleil-DCM at 37 sec
Francesco Chicchi heads an escape group
Edvald Boasson Hagen has a dig
Philippe Gilbert takes another strong solo win
Philippe Gilbert took the race lead after his win