Raivis Belohvosciks of Team Scott-American Beef won the closing time trial of the Eneco Tour, setting an early best time of 22.04 for the 18.8 km course, but the real drama of the day was the question of who would take the overall win. Team Columbia's André Greipel may have gone into the final time trial as the overall leader, but his eleven second margin over last year's winner José Iván Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) proved to be far too small to hold off the Spaniard at the end of the day.
Gutierrez, who placed second in the time trial behind the Latvian, Belohvosciks, put 25 seconds into the German over the 18.8 kilometre course, despite a last-kilometre mechanical, to secure his second consecutive overall victory in the Eneco Tour.
Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) and former world time trial champion Michael Rogers were within fractions of a second of Gutierrez on the stage, placing third and fourth respectively. Belgian time trial champion Stijn Devolder was fifth.
Gutierrez was please to take the win on the final stage. "I said the very first day the final time trial would decide everything and it has been the case", he said. "In such a race, all flat and where the wind can be very important and make that you lose plenty of time, you have to be very attentive every day. It is always the same in the Belgian races and that is exactly what happened yesterday."
The Spaniard was fortunate enough to make a 40-man front group on stage five which put paid to the GC hopes of Team Columbia's Edvald Boasson Hagen, who would have arguably been a greater time trial threat than his team-mate Greipel. The young Norwegian was just eleven seconds behind Gutierrez on the final stage.
"Fortunately I was in at the front when the bunch split and I finished the stage with the very first riders," Gutierrez recalled of Monday's stage. "I want to thank my team-mates of the team Caisse d'Epargne for the great job they achieved for me every day, chasing behind all the breaks, because without their help I would not be the winner today. After the prologue I felt better and better and today I felt very well. It was not enough to win the stage but it was to win the final classification and that is the most important thing. Moreover I really liked the course: short and fast. Perfect for me!"
How it unfolded
Denis Flahaut of Team Scott-American Beef was the first to go down the start ramp, promptly at 13:30. The riders went off at intervals of one and a half minutes, until the final ten, who had two minutes between them. Bert Roesems of Silence-Lotto was the first to break the 23 minute mark on the 18.8 km course, setting a best time of 22.52. But this was soon blasted by Belohvosciks, with a time of 22.04.
Edvald Boasson Hagen of Columbia set a new best time at the intermediate time check, and it looked like he would take the best time at the end, too, but he lost a lot of time in the second half and crossed the finish line with a time of 22.21. The young Norwegian had been the first to go through the intermediate check under 10 minutes (9.58).
The Latvian's time held up, with Gutierrez, Rosseler and Rogers coming only within eight seconds of his time. Gutierrez was second overall going into the stage, 11 seconds behind Greipel, and it was clear that he would out-do the German. He looked a shoo-in for the win until he lost his saddle on the cobblestones in the last kilometer, requiring him to finish the race standing on his pedals. However, he still finished fast enough to hold off all other challengers.