Gilbert finally wins his national title

Omega Pharma-Lotto leader beats Meersman and Wallays

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) finally got to pull on the iconic Belgian national champion’s jersey after another masterful display of racing in the Elite men’s road race in Hooglede Gits.

Gilbert was a marked man on the largely flat course but rode an aggressive race to win alone a few seconds ahead of Gianni Meersman (FDJ) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen). Tom Boonen (Quick Step) finished seventh after sitting up and giving up following his last-ditched pursuit. 2010 champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil) was sixth despite claiming to be out of form.

Gilbert had finished second in four editions of the Belgian national championships but was unbeatable in the scorching hot conditions. He must surely be the favourite to win the uphill finish of next Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France.

"It's fantastic to have won - I can’t believe I have this beautiful jersey,” Gilbert said after pulling on the red, yellow and black jersey.

"But I’ve got to share this victory with my team. We made the race difficult to force a selection. When Wellens went on the attack, I encouraged people to start a chase. Landbouwkrediet was the first team to sacrifice a few riders. Then I continued to push my teammates.”

“At one point, we were in front with a good group. Boonen and Devolder had been able to join us but I was convinced that it would be hard to make a difference, especially with the high speed. But when I looked around I saw that a lot of riders were tired. Then I knew it was my job to finish off the job on the last lap."

“I am proud to have this jersey but I’d like the exchange at the start of the Tour for the yellow jersey.”

Decisive attack

Gilbert split the race and formed the decisive break of the day with almost 100km to go.

On a long curved section of road, he dragged 14 riders clear, forcing Boonen and Devolder to go deep to get across with two others. That created an 18-rider front group. For everyone else, including Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard), the race was over.

Despite several of his rivals tying attacks, the front of the race stayed together and the race looked set to finish in a sprint. However Gilbert attacked hard on a section of cobbles just two kilometres out. He got a gap with a huge effort and not even Boonen could get across to him.

He then held off the chasers and had time to savour his success as he crossed the line.

After his victories in the Ardennes Classics and the Tour of Belgium, now Gilbert has the Belgian national champion’s jersey. His next goals are the yellow jersey at the Tour de France and then the rainbow jersey at the world championships.

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 5:19:38  
2 Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ 0:00:02  
3 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
4 Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
5 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:00:04  
6 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:08  
8 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Donckers Koffie - Jelly Belly 0:00:13  
9 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:00:16  
10 Fabio Polazzi (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole 0:00:18  
11 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:19  
12 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:00:26  
13 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:33  
14 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:06  
15 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:26  
16 Julien Vermote (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:52  
17 Olivier Pardini (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole 0:02:30  
18 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
19 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
20 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
21 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:02:33  
22 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
23 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent 0:02:36  
24 Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:02:38  
25 Frederik Willems (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
26 Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:02:40  
27 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
28 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:57  
29 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
30 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
31 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:03:01  
32 Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:03:25  
33 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) HTC-Highroad    
34 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
35 Philippe Legrand (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole    
36 Justin Van Hoecke (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole 0:04:58  
37 Olivier Chevalier (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole    
38 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
39 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
40 Gaetan Bille (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole    
41 Rudy Rouet (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole    
42 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
43 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
44 Bart Dockx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
45 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
46 Kevin Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
47 Frederique Robert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
48 Sven Vandousselaere (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
49 Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
50 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team    
51 Jonathan Dufrasne (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole    
52 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus    
53 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
54 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
55 Grégory Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
56 Dominique Cornu (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
57 Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
58 Steven De Neef (Bel) Jong Vlaanderen - Bauknecht    
59 Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
60 Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
61 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
62 Baptiste Plackaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
63 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
64 Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
65 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
66 Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
67 Maarten Neyens (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
68 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
69 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea    
70 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
71 Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)    
72 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Revor    
73 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
74 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
75 Bert De Backer (Bel) Skil - Shimano    
76 Bart Aernouts (Bel)    
77 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus    
78 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
79 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly    
80 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha Team    
81 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
82 Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet - Fidea    
83 Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
84 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack    
85 Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
86 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
87 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
88 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
89 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
90 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
91 Stijn Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
92 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
93 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
94 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
95 Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
96 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
97 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team    
98 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Donckers Koffie - Jelly Belly    
99 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
100 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    

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