Tom Boonen (Quick Step) won the third stage of the ENECO Tour of the Benelux, outgunning race leader Tyler Farrar and Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) in a bunch sprint.
After a torrid Tour de France, blighted by misfortune and injury, this is the first time in a couple of months that the Belgian champion has looked more like his old self, leading the bunch sprint out late and just holding off a fast-finishing Farrar.
Although his impressive winning streak is now over, the Garmin rider remains overall leader.
The day’s breakaway consisted of Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram) and Romain Villa (Cofidis). However, the bunch always kept them firmly in their crosshair, letting the escapees take a maximum of three minutes.
As Villa drifted back to the bunch, the two Dutchmen persisted with their breakaway effort. They were reeled in seven kilometres from the finish line in Hasselt, as Liquigas and Team Columbia took control of the bunch.
ENECO Tour of the Benelux stage three: Niel-Hasselt, 158.3km
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
2. Tyler Farrar (Usa) Garmin-Slipstream
3. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
5. Alexei Markov (Rus) Team Katusha
6. Matthew Goss (Aus) Saxo Bank
7. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia-HTC
8. Baden Cooke (Aus) Vacansoleil RT
9. Robert Wagner (Ger) Skil-Shimano
10. Alexandre Usov (Blr) Cofidis all same time
Overall standings after stage three
1. Tyler Farrar (Usa) Garmin-Slipstream 12-24-22
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 10secs
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia-HTC at 19secs
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step at 25sec
5. Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) Garmin-Slipstream at 27sec
6. Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank at same time
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 29sec
8. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank at same time
9. Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank at 30sec
10. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator at same time