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Bennati sprints to stage and overall

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Benna also took over the GC lead

Benna also took over the GC lead (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Former leader Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) rolls in

Former leader Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) rolls in (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The field flies into Terneuzen

The field flies into Terneuzen (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) tries to get through in-between Boonen and Bennati.

Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) tries to get through in-between Boonen and Bennati. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) gives it solid gas all the way to line.

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) gives it solid gas all the way to line. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Bennati held the other sprinters at bay.

Bennati held the other sprinters at bay. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is disappointed to miss out on another victory.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is disappointed to miss out on another victory. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A jubilant Bennati celebrates his win

A jubilant Bennati celebrates his win (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Benna also took over the GC lead

Benna also took over the GC lead (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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One for the history books

One for the history books (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) had led out Bennati and now is ready to loosen his tight cleats

Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) had led out Bennati and now is ready to loosen his tight cleats (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Claudio Corioni (Liquigas) had done his share of work to help Liquigas takes the win.

Claudio Corioni (Liquigas) had done his share of work to help Liquigas takes the win. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Former leader Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) rolls in and the white jersey will be the last memory of being the leader for now.

Former leader Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) rolls in and the white jersey will be the last memory of being the leader for now. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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AG2R and Scott came to the finish two minutes behind the leaders.

AG2R and Scott came to the finish two minutes behind the leaders. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The riders were clearly marked by the day's activities.

The riders were clearly marked by the day's activities. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Brazilian Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca lost almost three minutes.

Brazilian Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca lost almost three minutes. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A happy Bennati walks onto the podium and waves to the crowd.

A happy Bennati walks onto the podium and waves to the crowd. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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'Benna' smiles, flowers in hand.

'Benna' smiles, flowers in hand. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Bennati is think about who to give the flowers to

Bennati is think about who to give the flowers to (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) took over the GC lead with his stage win.

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) took over the GC lead with his stage win. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A happy GC leader with the penguin.

A happy GC leader with the penguin. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Bennati smiles and will be trying to defend his overall lead as long as possible.

Bennati smiles and will be trying to defend his overall lead as long as possible. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A happy penguin smiles and so does Bennati

A happy penguin smiles and so does Bennati (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Tom Boonen doesn't look too happy to receive the red jersey again.

Tom Boonen doesn't look too happy to receive the red jersey again. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Boonen clearly would have preferred the stage victory, which would have meant for him to keep the sprinters jersey also.

Boonen clearly would have preferred the stage victory, which would have meant for him to keep the sprinters jersey also. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A city official congratulates Boonen

A city official congratulates Boonen (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Caisse was still leading the teams classification.

Caisse was still leading the teams classification. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A happy Gutierrez received the trophy for the lead in the team.

A happy Gutierrez received the trophy for the lead in the team. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Bennati deep in thought wondering how to keep the jersey.

Bennati deep in thought wondering how to keep the jersey. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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France's Christophe Kern (Crédit Agricole) was all smiles at the start.

France's Christophe Kern (Crédit Agricole) was all smiles at the start. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Italian gentlemen: Marco Marcato (Cycle Collstrop) didn't want to get too close to the lady minding his bike.

Italian gentlemen: Marco Marcato (Cycle Collstrop) didn't want to get too close to the lady minding his bike. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Yohann Gène (Bouygues Telecom) would play a roll in today's break away.

Yohann Gène (Bouygues Telecom) would play a roll in today's break away. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Stéphane Poulhies (AG2R La Mondiale) signs on for the stage.

Stéphane Poulhies (AG2R La Mondiale) signs on for the stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R La Mondiale) gets some last minute changes to his set-up.

Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R La Mondiale) gets some last minute changes to his set-up. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The Française des Jeux bikes lined up and ready to roll.

The Française des Jeux bikes lined up and ready to roll. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Florent Brard (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) takes a moment for a photo with the bike holders at the stage start.

Florent Brard (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) takes a moment for a photo with the bike holders at the stage start. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Florent Brard (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) plays around for the cameras.

Florent Brard (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) plays around for the cameras. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Florent Brard's (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) experience with the lovely bike minders clearly had an impact on his day...he lost over 10 minutes.

Florent Brard's (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) experience with the lovely bike minders clearly had an impact on his day...he lost over 10 minutes. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The ladies look after Française des Jeux's bikes at the start.

The ladies look after Française des Jeux's bikes at the start. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The crew cut will never die, if Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) gets his way.

The crew cut will never die, if Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) gets his way. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Koen De Kort (Astana) and John Devine (Team Columbia) share a joke before the stage.

Koen De Kort (Astana) and John Devine (Team Columbia) share a joke before the stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Polish affair: Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas), Michal Golas (Cycle Collstrop) and Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) talk ahead of the stage.

Polish affair: Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas), Michal Golas (Cycle Collstrop) and Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) talk ahead of the stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Big Belgian Tom Boonen (Quick Step) gets some medical advice before the stage.

Big Belgian Tom Boonen (Quick Step) gets some medical advice before the stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) does a final check of his gear before the stage.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) does a final check of his gear before the stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Talking Italian: Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas) and Fabio Sabatini (Team Milram) chat on the start line.

Talking Italian: Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas) and Fabio Sabatini (Team Milram) chat on the start line. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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German Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) looked focused on the start line.

German Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) looked focused on the start line. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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France's Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues Telecom) was looking forward to a good day.

France's Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues Telecom) was looking forward to a good day. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Française des Jeux's riders looked relaxed on the start line.

Française des Jeux's riders looked relaxed on the start line. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Geert Steurs (Silence - Lotto) takes a drink from the team car.

Geert Steurs (Silence - Lotto) takes a drink from the team car. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Caisse d'Epargne leads the peloton on Stage 3.

Caisse d'Epargne leads the peloton on Stage 3. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Euskaltel - Eusdaki), Matthe Pronk (Cycle Collstrop), Raul Alarcon Garcia (Scott-American Beef) and Yohann Gene (Bougues Telecom) formed a break away.

Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Euskaltel - Eusdaki), Matthe Pronk (Cycle Collstrop), Raul Alarcon Garcia (Scott-American Beef) and Yohann Gene (Bougues Telecom) formed a break away. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is only 14 seconds off the lead, but looked to enjoy the sunshine on Stage 3.

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is only 14 seconds off the lead, but looked to enjoy the sunshine on Stage 3. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Team Columbia stuck together in the hope of taking another stage win.

Team Columbia stuck together in the hope of taking another stage win. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Team Columbia worked with Caisse d'Epargne to bring the break back.

Team Columbia worked with Caisse d'Epargne to bring the break back. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Despite a long break away the escapees looked fresh throughout the race.

Despite a long break away the escapees looked fresh throughout the race. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Polands Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) grabs a mouth full of food during the stage.

Polands Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) grabs a mouth full of food during the stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The bunch rolled along at its own pace...

The bunch rolled along at its own pace... (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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...as the break away pulled out a seven minute lead.

...as the break away pulled out a seven minute lead. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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André Greipel (Team Columbia) holds third place four seconds back.

André Greipel (Team Columbia) holds third place four seconds back. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) claims victory over Tom Boonen (Quick Step).

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) claims victory over Tom Boonen (Quick Step). (Image credit: www.organicwax.be)

Italian Daniele Bennati powered to his first win since the Giro d'Italia on the Eneco Tour's third stage. The Liquigas sprinter bested stage one winner Tom Boonen and Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts to slip into the overall lead thanks to the ten second time bonus on the line ahead of Team Columbia's Edvald Boasson Hagen.

The morning's leader José Iván Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) gave up his hold on the overall at the final intermediate sprint, where the young Norwegian Boasson Hagen took three bonus seconds.

Bennati was happy with his victory over Boonen. "I am proud because it is the first time that I have beaten him," the Italian said. "What my team did at the end was impressive."

"This gives me confidence for the Vuelta, especially because I know I will face Boonen and Quick Step there," he added.

Boonen took his loss philosophically, saying that once again his lead-out train was not well-coordinated, and ended up two men short at the end. "Winning is not the only thing, it is also important to have a good feeling," he said. "My sprint is good. But the mechanism must get better."

Team Columbia gambled on taking over the leader's jersey for its young Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, who went into the stage only hundredths of a second behind Jose Ivan Gutierrez. When Boasson Hagen won the three seconds of the last intermediate sprint, his lead looked assured. But the USA-based team was unable to involve itself in the sprint Saturday, and Bennati took the 10 seconds awarded to the winner to move into first place. Things aren't all that bad for Columbia, though. Boasson Hagen is still second, by only one second, and Andre Greipel is third, only four seconds down.

How it unfolded

The riders were greeted by pleasant weather for a change: sunshine, dry roads and only a light wind. One rider was missing at the start today: Philippe Gilbert of Française des Jeux did not start.

Only three kilometres into the stage, Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez of Euskalel attacked and gained ground on the peloton. He was soon joined by Matthe Pronk (Cycle Collstrop), Raul Alarcon Garcia (Scott-American Beef) and Yohann Gene of Bougues Telecom. The four quickly picked up two and a half minutes.

With 50 kilometres behind them, the foursome had more than seven minutes on the peloton. That was enough for the peloton, which started getting serious and brought the lead down to 5'15" with 116 km to go.

The lead kept dropping and with 75 km to go, it was down to 2'48", which sparked a new escape attempt. Maareten Tjallingii of Silence-Lotto was the first to go, and he was quickly joined by AG2R's Laurent Mangel. It didn't take long for them to catch the four in front, only six kilometres. The sextet was able to hold a lead of two to two and a half minutes.

Tom Boonen personally picked up the speed with 50 km to go and shattered the peloton. A large group was able to go with him, but many riders were caught napping. The field was basically split in half.

The Quick-Step led group was going so fast that they caught the six escapees within a few minutes. And once again Boonen went to the front and turned the speed up a notch, hoping to shed a few competitors along the way.

At the last intermediate sprint of the day, with 38 kilometres to go, Columbia's André Greipel and Edvald Boassan Hagen jumped out and took not only the points but also the bonus seconds. The three seconds were enough to give the young Norwegian the 'virtual' leader's jersey.

The sprinters' teams kept the pace high as they rolled along the flat Dutch landscape. All of the top ten riders were in the first field, which by this time had a lead of nearly a minute on the chasing group.

They took that lead with them as they disappeared into the 6.6 km Westerschelde tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was the Tunnel Sprint, which leader José Iván Gutierrez won. Unfortunately for him, there were no bonus seconds attached to the sprint.

With 10 kilometres to go, Columbia moved to the front to keep the pace high and ensure the leader's jersey for Boasson Hagen. Liquigas kept a man up front, too. Columbia was unable to maintain control, though, and was nowhere to be seen as the field swept under the one kilometer marker. Boonen opened the sprint and seemed sure to power his way to the win, but Bennati came around him to win by half a bike length.

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