Belgian Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) won a fast and furious bunch sprint in Sunday?s stage four of the Eneco Tour – but his no-holds-barred tactics in the final metres also earned him a severe telling off from his fellow sprinters.
Weylandt touched bars when he lurched leftwards into the path of Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), his last remaining rival, just fractions of a second before crossing the line at Terneuzen in Holland. Third was Australian Matthew Goss of CSC.
How intentional Weylandt?s manouvre was will probably remain a mystery, but Weylandt?s failure to keep his line – whilst winning the stage – was clearly not approved of by a number of the other sprinters, some of whom approached him afterwards.To judge by the way they were speaking to the young Belgian, he was getting anything but their congratulations.
If Weylandt?s sprinting techniques provided the controversy of the day, otherwise the Eneco Tour?s stage out of Belgium and into Holland on Sunday had little else of interest.
Following the third successive bunch sprint of the race, Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) slender lead overall remains intact, although David Millar (Saunier Duval) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse D?Epargne) shaved seconds off the Belgian?s overall advantage when they took second and first respectively in an intermediate sprint.
T-Mobile?s Mark Cavendish remains in control of the points jersey despite failing to make the top three in the bunch sprint. Cavendish also lost two of his team-mates before the start – Adam Hansen and Scott Davis have left the race because they will be taking part in the Vuelta.
The Briton is suffering from an abcess under a wisdom tooth which he plans to have extracted in the near future, but told CW that “even though it’s affecting me, I’ve got good enough form to be up there.”
“Today I was up there, I could have won with one kilometre to go, but then I got blocked in. Somebody ‘turned left’ in front of me and it was either go into the barriers or slow down.”
However, with just one sprinters stage left to race – Monday?s 179.4 kilometre run from Terneuzen to Nieuwegein – the Manxman should have at least one more day in the points jersey, and one more chance to add to his 2007 total of eight race wins.
ENECO Tour 2007: Stage four: Maldegem – Terneuzen
1 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quickstep 4-09-31
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
3 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team CSC
4 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Unibet.com
5 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Lampre – Fondital
6 Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Saunier Duval – Prodir
7 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas
8 Saïd Haddou (Fra) Bouygues
9 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques
16 Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
36 David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) all st
91 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) at 25sec
120 Steve Cummings (Discovery) at 32sec
Overall after four stages
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis 17-11-47
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank at 10 sec
3 José Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 14sec
4 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval – Prodir at 16 sec
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Predictor – Lotto at 25 sec
6 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor – Lotto at 37sec
7 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank at 41sec
8 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep – Innergetic at 48sec
10 Paul Martens (Ger) Skil – Shimano at 49sec
11 Piet Rooijakkers (Ned) Skil – Shimano at 50sec
84 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) at 11-38
104 Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) at 13-59
111 Steve Cummings (Discovery) at 14-47