Greipel wins 2 stages and Gilbert wins the general classification of the Tour of Belgium

Philippe Gilbert won the 5-day Tour of Belgium and basked in the celebrations at the finish alongside his teammate André Greipel, who was able to scoop two stage victories and confirm his good form just two months before the Tour de France. Omega Pharma-Lotto’s dominance during this stage race could simply not be overlooked because in addition to Hürth born Greipel’s two stage victories, Philippe Gilbert won the Queen’s stage. Therefore three of the five stages were won by riders on a Canyon.

Even at the opening time-trial the pros from Omega Pharma-Lotto demonstrated that they were in blistering form. Six riders from the team finished in the top 21. Philippe Gilbert (second place, 1 second down), Jens Debusschere (sixth place, seven seconds down), André Greipel (ninth place, nine seconds down), Marcel Sieberg (14th place, ten seconds down), David Boucher (20th place, 14 seconds down), Jurgen Roelandts (21st place, 14 seconds down). In addition, the team had optimum support from Kenny De Haes and Frederik Willems.

On stage 2 a rider from the Omega Pharma-Lotto team took the overall leader’s jersey. André Greipel won on the 160 km stage from Lochristi to Knokke-Heist in a sprint finish ahead of Kenny Van Hummel and took the overall lead thanks to the time bonus. Philippe Gilbert also finished in the same time as Greipel and kept within striking distance of what was to be his later triumph. After day two André Greipel led ahead of his teammate Philippe Gilbert in the overall classification by a narrow margin of just two seconds.

The victory in the subsequent stage went to Aidis Kruopis, who was able to move up to 15th place in the overall standings although he was not able to make an impact on the general classification. However the public’s s darling Philippe Gilbert snatched a 3-second time bonus on the Kemmelberg, meaning that he had moved ahead of André Greipel to take the overall lead.

Philippe made clear that he wanted to defend his lead until the end of the race on the Queen’s stage. Stage four from Bertem to Eupen had a similar route profile to the spring classics in which “Fast Phil” had already demonstrated his strengths. In the uphill sprint finish he got the better of Greg van Avermaet and Björn Leukemans. Gilbert then had a 19-second lead allowing him to take it easy on the final flat stage.

At the end it was once again André Greipel who polished off the convincing overall performance of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team. In the sprint finish of the final stage he overcame Aidis Fruopis making it the third stage victory for Omega Pharma-Lotto in the Tour of Belgium 2011. As well as victory in the general classification Gilbert also finished joint top of the points competition alongside teammate André Greipel.

RADSPORT/ BELGIEN-RUNDFAHRT 4. ETAPPE / 29.05.2011 / ROTH

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