The last stage of the Eneco Tour finished with high drama, with Stefan Schumacher finishing third in...
Schumacher wins Eneco Tour in bizarre finish
The last stage of the Eneco Tour finished with high drama, with Stefan Schumacher finishing third in the stage and jumping over George Hincapie to win by just one second, after the bonus seconds were worked out. It wasn't as simple as that, however. The bunch was sprinting for second place behind Philippe Gilbert (FranÃ§aise des Jeux), who took a fantastic home victory. With 100m to go, Schumacher led on the curving left hand barrier with Hincapie on his wheel, when he hit the arm of a fan who was perhaps celebrating Gilbert's victory. Schumacher swerved right, causing Hincapie to crash with just 50m to go, but held it up himself to finish third behind Gilbert and Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval). Had Schumi finished second and Hincapie third, the American would have kept the red jersey.
"I shouldn't be ashamed. I have deserved the victory," said Schumacher, who in any case wasn't happy on the podium. He stood a good chance of winning without the crash, but now it will be a case of "what if?"
The final stage, which started and finished in Ans and was run over a Liege-Bastogne-Liege-style course, saw a breakaway of seven escape after 10 km: Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), William Bonnet (Credit Agricole), Aaron Olson (Saunier Duval), Steven Caethoven (Chocolade Jacques), and Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com). The group got as much as six minutes as the race approached the halfway point, before Discovery and Quick.Step combined to chase it down. It came back together with 32 km to go and Merckx, LÃ¶vkvist, LÃ¶wik, LefÃ¨vre, Portal and Righi escaped, gaining a maximum of 45 seconds, which wasn't enough to see them home. The winning move came from Philippe Gilbert at 4.5 km to go, and that was the one that paid off.
Click here for the Full results, report & photos from stage 7.