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Barloworld works magic in France

Robbie Hunter (Barloworld)

Robbie Hunter (Barloworld) (Image credit: Shane Goss)

After the final two stages held Sunday, Robbie Hunter won the French Tour de Picardie stage race.

On the fourth and last 91.5km stage of the three-day tour, the Barloworld pro successfully defended a lead over Jartazi cyclist Janek Tombak from Estonia. Third overall was Italian Alessandro Proni, who attacked Hunter, together with Tombak, on the final hill when the bunch was three kilometres to go. It was a valiant effort to gain time through a gap and finishing bonuses, but Tombak would fall three seconds short of his goal.

Tombak pulled off a surprising victory in the fourth and final stage ahead of Alessandro Proni, even though the two escapees weren't able to seize the overall lead.

The 30-year-old Hunter was strongly supported by the entire Barloworld squad on the final hill, where it worked to defend his leader's jersey. The Tour de Picardie is Hunter's sixth win of the season, which includes the Volta ao Santarem stage race.

The morning's 93.5km rainy stage 3 from La Croix Saint Ouen to Soissons took a heavy toll on the peloton. Sébastien Chavanel won ahead of Mark Renshaw after a bunch sprint, but 72 riders withdrew from the race.