A three-rider breakaway, which was down to just one rider with about 11km to go, was completely caught with 4.6km remaining in the race. A select group, led by Belkin and a full gas OPQS, were left to decide the stage. But attacks were still flying with 1.5km to go, with Stybar, Lars Boom (Belkin), and Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing Team) getting a small gap.
The Czech champion was able to hang on to good position in the final meters and he outsprinted the Belkin duo Boom and Sep Vanmarcke in a group sprint. Due to his win, Stybar also took the lead in the overall classification. Stybar is also the defending overall champion.
Stybar’s win was the 50th road win for OPQS in 2014 and the 52nd in total.
“I feel pretty relaxed now despite a very hectic final,” Stybar said. “Everything turned out well and I’m happy with my victory. In the final we were there with the whole team, and we started to make an echelon with the crosswind. We were just riding hard and in perfect position. I knew in advance that I have to be in front on the cobblestones, especially because they were wet. There were only two lines on the cobbles where you could ride safely. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) in that movement tried to ride away on the left side. We were all on the right side. but we closed the gap. Then Vanmarcke tried on his own, so that was the moment when I jumped on someone’s wheel. Then when we caught up to that move with 1.5 kilometers to go, I saw Boom and Quinziato going. So I directly jumped on their wheel. They were giving everything and I knew that Lars would go full gas to the final to try and win in his hometown. I didn’t work with the others because I knew if I did, I would lose the sprint. In that moment Bauke Mollema (Belkin) came back and he started his sprint a bit early. I took over on the front for the sprint probably at about 250 meters to go, in front of the turn. It was a really long sprint. At one moment I thought it was too long, but I managed to stay in front and take the win. I just have to see what will happen tomorrow in the time trial. I think it will be important to not lose too much time. I’m not a time trialist, but I trained a lot on the Specialized Shiv. So, I’m curious how I’ll do tomorrow and I’ll do my best to defend my jersey and minimize any time losses. We’re a really strong team and the last three days should suit me. The condition is good, so I will try to go for it, whether that means winning another stage or winning the GC for the second year in a row. We’ll see what I can do. I have to thank my teammates for doing such good work to put me in the position to fight for the win today.”