Philippe Gilbert of the BMC Racing Team captured the Ster ZLM Toer for the third time Sunday, adding to the overall titles he won at the race in 2009 and 2011.
‘Pretty Special Victory’
Gilbert said his only nervous moment of the day came at the start of the 173.7-kilometer stage. “I was a little bit scared because a big crash happened next to me, but I was luckily out of trouble,” he said. Gilbert also avoided a second pile-up in the final kilometers to finish 12th as André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won ahead of Tyler Farrar, who edged out Gilbert for the points classification title. In the final standings, Gilbert was 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) and 17 ahead of Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). It was his largest margin of victory of his three victories. “Three times I have won the race in the same way: by winning the queen stage in the Ardennes and then controlling the last day,” Gilbert said. “So to do it three times with the same scenario makes it a pretty special victory.”
Sanchez Happy To Help
Gilbert won Wednesday’s prologue, conceded the lead on Thursday to Marcel Kittel (Team Giant-Shimano), then regained it Saturday with an uphill attack that saw him solo in three seconds ahead of Wellens. “Philippe is in very good shape,” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. “We saw that when he won the prologue against specialists and stronger riders like Kittel. This was a sign of his top condition.” BMC Racing Team’s Samuel Sánchez, whose attack Saturday set up Gilbert’s winning move, said it was satisfying to help the former world champion earn his team-leading fifth victory of the year. “I am happy to be here to support Philippe,” Sánchez said. “On Saturday, it was like Amstel. We did the same move. So of course I am very happy to have helped him.” Other teammates joining Gilbert on the winning squad were Yannick Eijssen, Ben Hermans, Sebastian Lander, Klaas Lodewyck and Rick Zabel.
1. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 3hr 54min 41sec, 2. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRS) s.t,
3. Robert Wagner (GER/BEL) s.t, 4. Michael van Staeyen (BEL/TSV) s.t, 5. Roy
Jans (BEL/WGG) s.t
Final overall standings
1. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) 17hr 33min 17sec, 2. Tim Wellens (BEL/LTB) at
12sec, 3. Gianni Meersman (BEL/OPQ) 17, 4. Paul Martens (GER/BEL) 24, 5.
Thomas Dekker (NED/GRS) 26.