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Gilbert finally wins his national title

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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) savors the moment

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) savors the moment
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) back on the podium in Belgium

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) back on the podium in Belgium
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates his first Belgian road title

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates his first Belgian road title
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Gianni Meersman (FDJ), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) on the podium

Gianni Meersman (FDJ), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) on the podium
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Gilbert is congratulated by Boonen

Gilbert is congratulated by Boonen
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Sweet champagne for Gilbert, who won his first ever elite Belgian road title

Sweet champagne for Gilbert, who won his first ever elite Belgian road title
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) lets loose with the champagne

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) lets loose with the champagne
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) looks pretty happy with the gold medal

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) looks pretty happy with the gold medal
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is the new Belgian champion

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is the new Belgian champion
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Gianni Meersman won the sprint for second.

Gianni Meersman won the sprint for second.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Jelle Wallays makes his first appearance on the elite podium

Jelle Wallays makes his first appearance on the elite podium
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) zips up his new jersey

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) zips up his new jersey
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Jeannot Gilbert, the father of Philippe is pleased with his son's victory

Jeannot Gilbert, the father of Philippe is pleased with his son's victory
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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There would be no podium time for Tom Boonen

There would be no podium time for Tom Boonen
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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The sprint for second goes to Meersman

The sprint for second goes to Meersman
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) finished with a few seconds to spare to win the Belgian title

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) finished with a few seconds to spare to win the Belgian title
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won a lot, but never before his national road title

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won a lot, but never before his national road title
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)

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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