Scot David Millar came and conquered The Three Days of De Panne, winning the final time trial stage this afternoon in De Panne, Belgium, to push Luca Paolini out of the classification top spot.
"I told my team-mate last night, I really hope I could win this because De Panne is one of those races that is feared and respected in the professional peloton," said Millar. "So to come here and win the GC, in a particularly dirty and hard De Panne, I am pretty proud."
The 'hard' win comes on the heels of his time trial win in the Critérium International on Sunday and 12 years after he beat Michele Bartoli in the De Panne time trial.
Team Garmin's Millar posted a time of 18'44" over the 14.75-kilometre course along the Belgian Coast, which was hit with winds, though sunny and cold. His closest rival at the start of the day, Andriy Grivko (Astana), closed the stage with 19'31".
"I was nervous beforehand and I wasn't convinced I was going to win the GC," Millar continued. "I just tackled it and focused on what I had to do and hoped that it would be enough. I am pleased that I dropped Westra yesterday."
Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) lost over two minutes in yesterday's stage to Millar. He finished second on the stage today, with a time of 18'49".
With the stage win, Millar moved from fourth overall at 12 seconds to win the classification by 35 seconds over Ukrainian Grivko. Paolini (Acqua & Sapone) placed third overall at 1'07" back.
Belgian Dominique Cornu (Skil-Shimano) posted the time to beat, 19'18", in the early afternoon. As the sun edged closer to the North Sea and the temperatures dropped and the favourites rolled off the start ramp.
Svein Tuft, silver medallist in the 2008 Worlds, posted a time of 19'08". Tuft's thoughts were less on the stage win and more on setting quick time checks for team-mate Millar. His time, though, was enough to earn him an eventual third spot.
"To be honest we didn't realise he was doing such a good time," said Millar, who was in the following car with Sports Director Matt White. "He looked good, it is a perfect course for him. Actually, me and Whitey were in the car listening to music, so we weren't being too calculated about it!"
Millar's time trial win and successive overall win capped a successful day for White's Garmin-Transitions, who also won the morning stage with American sprinter Tyler Farrar.
Three Days of De Panne, stage 3b
1. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions
2. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil at 5secs
3. Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 24secs
4. Bert Grabsch (Ger) HTC-Columbia at 30secs
5. Dominique Cornu (Bel) Skil-Shimano at 34secs
6. Hayden Roulston (NZ) Cervelo at 35secs
7. Eric Berthou (Fra) Carmiooro at 42secs
8. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 47secs
9. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step at 50secs
10. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator at 51secs
Final overall classification
1. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions in 12-20-36
2. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 35secs
3. Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 1-07
4. Frederic Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet at 1-25
5. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil at 2-16
6. Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil at 2-26
7. Hayden Roulston (NZ) HTC-Columbia at 2-44
8. Sebastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom at 2-45
9. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha at 2-58
10. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas at 2-59
58. Mark McNally (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 34-51
David Millar on his way to stage victory and the overall win in De Panne
Stage 3a: Farrar wins season's first in De Panne; Millar poised for TT
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