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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) on the podium after his stage win.
First victory for the Belgian since national championship
Quick Step's Tom Boonen won the 158.3km stage three of the Eneco Tour from Niel to Hasselt on Friday. The Belgian was racing on his home roads, on which he outsprinted runner-up Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) and Francesco Chi.cchi (Team Liquigas).
"This is my first victory wearing the Belgian National Champion's jersey since I won it earlier this year," said a happy Boonen. "I was looking forward to this stage, and it was important to me to do well."
Racing at home was extra motivation for Boonen. "We passed in front of the house where I was born, where my parents and relatives live, and we rode through places where I usually train."
"To win here, in front of my fans, is really satisfying, and only makes this day more perfect. The rest period after the Tour de France did me well. My physical conditioning is getting better and better."
Boonen admitted his form wasn't the best during the Tour de France, a race from which he withdrew in July. "In France I wasn't in the best of shape. The Tour is a challenging race and you have to be in top form to give it your best. However, now I feel like I'm back in fighting form, and I can have a good, competitive end of the season."