Frank Vandenbroucke's comebacks have been too numerous to count them but this time he seems to back it up with results. He finished the 2.2. La Boucle de l'Artois in third place overall, after winning the time trial on Saturday.
Vandenbroucke stormed the 15-kilometre time trial course in 20:22.25, at an average speed of more than 45 km/h. He beat Patrick Gretsch (Thüringer Energie Team) by one second. Vandenbroucke's teammate Bert Roesems completed the podium.
Vandenbroucke knew how to evaluate the success. "It is obviously no ProTour race," he said to the Nieuwsblad. "But I am feeling well right now. Vandenbroucke is not written off yet. Day by day I am getting stronger." It had been four years since Vandenbroucke won a race, "in 2005 in Zwevegem I took a kermis race."
Despite the success Vandenbroucke was self-critical. "I am not going well in the hills yet and I can still shed four or five kilograms." He will go to northern Italy now for some mountain training. "I am seeing some possibilities still for myself this year, maybe the Belgian time trial championships."
He did beat a former Belgian time trial champion with Roesems. Roesems, who formerly rode for Lotto, won the Belgian championships twice, in 1996 as an amateur and in 2004 as a professional. Second-placed Gretsch, who turns 22 on Tuesday, became German time trial junior champion in 2004. That year he also won the junior World Championships.
Vandenbroucke led the overall after the time trial, but surrendered the lead in the road race later in the day to Sergey Firsanov (Team Designa Køkken). Firsanov won solo, with Vandenbroucke ending the stage in 28th, a little less than a minute behind.