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) TeamResult
1Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto5:19:38 
2Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ0:00:02 
3Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
4Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
5Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:00:04 
6Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
7Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:08 
8Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Donckers Koffie - Jelly Belly0:00:13 
9Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:00:16 
10Fabio Polazzi (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole0:00:18 
11Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne0:00:19 
12Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:00:26 
13Kenny De Haes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:00:33 
14Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team0:01:06 
15Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:01:26 
16Julien Vermote (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team0:01:52 
17Olivier Pardini (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole0:02:30 
18Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
19Andy Cappelle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
20Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
21Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:02:33 
22Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
23Steven Caethoven (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent0:02:36 
24Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:02:38 
25Frederik Willems (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
26Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:02:40 
27Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
28Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:57 
29Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
30Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
31Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:03:01 
32Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:03:25 
33Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) HTC-Highroad  
34Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
35Philippe Legrand (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
36Justin Van Hoecke (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole0:04:58 
37Olivier Chevalier (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
38Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
39James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
40Gaetan Bille (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
41Rudy Rouet (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
42Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
43Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
44Bart Dockx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
45Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
46Kevin Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
47Frederique Robert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
48Sven Vandousselaere (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
49Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
50Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team  
51Jonathan Dufrasne (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
52Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus  
53Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
54Bart De Clercq (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
55Grégory Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
56Dominique Cornu (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
57Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
58Steven De Neef (Bel) Jong Vlaanderen - Bauknecht  
59Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
60Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
61Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
62Baptiste Plackaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
63Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
64Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
65Wim De Vocht (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
66Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
67Maarten Neyens (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
68Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
69Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea  
70Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
71Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)  
72Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Revor  
73Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
74Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
75Bert De Backer (Bel) Skil - Shimano  
76Bart Aernouts (Bel)  
77Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus  
78Jens Debusschere (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
79Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly  
80Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha Team  
81Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
82Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet - Fidea  
83Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
84Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack  
85Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
86Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
87Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
88Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
89Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
90Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
91Stijn Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
92Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
93Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
94Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
95Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
96Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
97Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team  
98Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Donckers Koffie - Jelly Belly  
99Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
100Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  

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