Russian Champion Sergey Ivanov took the overall victory in the Tour the Wallonie in Belgium on Wednesday. He brought his Team Astana its seventh overall victory in a stage race this season after finishing third in the 175km final stage behind Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) and Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis).
Ivanov, Halgand and Verbrugghe had broken away earlier in the stage with Christophe Edaleine (Ag2R), Scott Nydam (BMC) and Sébastien Minard (Cofidis). Ivanov, the highest ranked GC rider in the front, was only 33 seconds behind yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet.
"Initially, the other five riders in the leading group didn't want to go further with me, as I was dangerous for the GC," said Ivanov. "They feared that the peloton would not let us go. I convinced them to try it. The overall victory would be for me, the stage victory for one of the others. We could take advantage as well of the rivalry in the peloton between the teams of Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) and yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto). They didn't want to work for each other."
"It was a bit weird really," said Team CSC-Saxo Bank's director Scott Sunderland on www.team-csc.com. "Quick Step and Silence-Lotto seemed to have everything under control all day and Quick Step had even secured bonus seconds for Paolo Bettini so he could take the overall victory in a final sprint. But all of a sudden the break had gone too far and Ivanov took it all instead."
After winning the Russian Championships, it was Ivanov's second win of the year. He's also finished seventh in the Amstel Gold Race, third in the Tour of Belgium and 11th in the Tour of Switzerland.
"Since the end of May I have been racing really well. I worked hard to obtain these results, and they came just in time. I am negotiating a contract for 2009. Victories are the best things to convince people."
Ivanov heads next to the Clásica San Sebastián on August 2.
Team BMC's Steve Bovay secures King of Mountains and Most Combative Prize. It was BMC's third KOM jersey of the season after winning the KOM in the Tour of California and Tour of Picardie.