Philippe Gilbert is not just in form in the spring but also in summer! Gilbert got the better of the rest of his countrymen on an 18-lap 13.4 km circuit and can now wear the coveted Belgian champion’s jersey. The only difficult part of the predominantly flat course was the Gitsberg climb, which however according to the opinion of many experts would not be hard enough to prevent a bunch sprint.
The multiple runner-up and top favourite for 2011 pulled out all the stops in order to net the national championship this time around. At around the half way mark a top-class leading group consisting of Gilbert, defending champion Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen came together. Omega Pharma-Lotto kept the pace high and prevented any further breakaway attempts from the leading group. In the closing stages of the race perhaps the riders felt a sense of déjà-vu as Gilbert waited until the final climb of the race before launching his attack and leaving his rivals in his wake. Tom Boonen was able to go with the pace for a little while before having to finally let fast Phil pull away. Gilbert crossed the finish line 2 seconds up on Gianni Meersman and Jelle Wallays.
It didn’t quite go according to plan for Hürth born André Greipel. At the German national championships in Neuwied (not far from Canyon.Home) everything, including the course, made a bunch sprint likely in which André Greipel had a great chance of victory. Greipel’s teammates and the riders from HTC with their team captain John Degenkolb all stepped up the pace in order to set up a bunch sprint. However, on the finishing straight it was neither Greipel nor Degenkolb who seized victory. The rank outsider Robert Wagner snatched the title ahead of Gerald Ciolek and John Degenkolb. André Greipel was extremely disappointed with his fourth place finish and wants to make amends and show what he’s capable of when the Tour de France starts this coming Saturday.