By Susan Westemeyer
Elia Rigotto took Team Milram's third win within 10 days, winning the Schaal J.C. Sels Merksem for his first win of the season. After the departure of Alessandro Petacchi and the disqualification of his season victories, the German ProTour team was looking at a bleak year, but has been on the rebound over the summer. Most recently Björn Schröder took the overall title in the Rothaus Regio Tour and Brett Lancaster won the Deutschland Tour prologue.
"That was a very strong performance from Elia today", said Directeur Sportif Antonio Bevilaqua, Milram's Directeur Sportif. "Elia took his chance in the finale and after his attack won quite easily."
A group of 28 riders got away early in the race, with start and finish in Antwerp. After 145 kilometres, the gap was over 12 minutes, and the race jury took the rest of the riders out of the race. When the group got to the closing circuit, which was to be ridden four times, it had shrunk to 20 riders. With about 15km to go, Rigotto and Kristjam Fajt (Perutnina Ptuj) attacked and were able to get away when the rest of the group hesitated. The Italian easily out-sprinted his Slovenian companion to win by one second. Lieuwe Westra of Krolstone Continental Team led the remaining riders over the finish line 10 seconds later.
It was the first season win for the 26-year-old Rigotto, who became the first Italian ever to win the race. He turned pro with Domina Vacanze in 2005 before joining Milram in 2006.
Rigotto made some negative headlines in the Tour down Under and was thrown out of the race after headbutting Mathew Hayman.