Farrar surprises himself with hold on Eneco lead

Race leader Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) won his third stage of the Eneco Tour.

Race leader Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) won his third stage of the Eneco Tour. (Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)

Tyler Farrar defied even his own expectations as he maintained and extended his overall race lead at the Eneco Tour with his third stage win of the race on Saturday. The American admitted after his win in an uphill sprint in Libramont, Belgium, that he had expected to lose the race lead on the stage's hilly profile.

"I was certain I would lose my leader's jersey today," Farrar told De Telegraaf after the stage. "The hills were difficult, but not steep enough for me to lose contact."

Farrar highlighted his sprint versatility on the final ascent to the line as he triumphed in a photo finish ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) and Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-N.G.C). The win added to victories by Farrar on stages one and two of the Benelux race.

The stage, which had taken the peloton through the Wallonie region of Belgium, had been punctuated by nine short, punchy climbs. Farrar said he was surprised with his performance, though with another 16 climbs on Sunday's stage five was realistic about his chances of defending the jersey to the end of the race on Tuesday in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

"I go from day-to-day. Tomorrow we have another difficult stage. Today I surprised myself, so I am not saying that it is impossible. But I don't think I would consider myself to be one of the big favourites [for the overall]. Whatever happens, it has already been a great race"

Victory on stage four also gave Farrar a ten-second bonus in the overall classification. He now holds a 20-second lead over fellow sprinter Tom Boonen and is a further three seconds ahead of third-placed Boasson Hagen.

The Eneco Tour heads back into the Netherlands on Sunday for the fifth stage of the race. The peloton will compete on roads used for the Amstel Gold race, including an ascent of the Cauberg early in the stage.

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