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Voeckler victorious through rain and hail in Brabantse Pijl

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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the move

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the move
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins the Brabantse Pijl

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins the Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins in his typical fashion

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins in his typical fashion
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) celebrates victory

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) celebrates victory
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Happy with his solo victory, Thomas Voeckler celebrates in the Fleche Brabanconne

Happy with his solo victory, Thomas Voeckler celebrates in the Fleche Brabanconne
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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A trophy and flowers for Thomas Voeckler

A trophy and flowers for Thomas Voeckler
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Pierre Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen) was third.

Pierre Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen) was third.
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Kisses for race winner Thomas Voeckler

Kisses for race winner Thomas Voeckler
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Freire, Voeckler and Serry on the podium of the Brabantse Pijl

Freire, Voeckler and Serry on the podium of the Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler had his young son on the podium

Thomas Voeckler had his young son on the podium
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) crosses the line ahead of Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) crosses the line ahead of Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) finishes up

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) finishes up
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) crosses the line

Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) crosses the line
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) finished fourth

Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) finished fourth
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) leads a chase group in

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) leads a chase group in
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) on the podium

Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)

Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) on the podium

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team)

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) solo off the front

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) solo off the front
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire (Katusha) second in Brabantse Pijl

Oscar Freire (Katusha) second in Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team) takes a pull

Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team) takes a pull
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) crosses the line ahead of Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) crosses the line ahead of Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) finishes up

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) finishes up
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) crosses the line

Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) crosses the line
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) finished fourth

Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) finished fourth
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) leads a chase group in

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) leads a chase group in
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) on the podium

Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)

Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) on the podium

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team)

Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) solo off the front

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) solo off the front
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the move

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the move
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team) takes a pull

Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team) takes a pull
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert at the start

Philippe Gilbert at the start
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol Team )

Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol Team )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )

Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team )

Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )

Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar )

Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Voeckler's son enjoys his time on the podium

Voeckler's son enjoys his time on the podium
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator )

Thomas De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )

Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale )

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan )

Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team )

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Fabio Duarte (Colombia - Coldeportes )

Fabio Duarte (Colombia - Coldeportes )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Arthur Vanoverberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator )

Arthur Vanoverberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Maxime Vantomme (Katusha Team )

Maxime Vantomme (Katusha Team )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Kevin Reza (Team Europcar )

Kevin Reza (Team Europcar )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team )

Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar )

Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )

Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quickstep )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Koldo Fernandez (Garmin-Barracuda )

Koldo Fernandez (Garmin-Barracuda )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Freire takes a tough second in Fleche Brabanconne

Freire takes a tough second in Fleche Brabanconne
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Gilbert finishes the Brabantse Pijl at the head of the peloton

Gilbert finishes the Brabantse Pijl at the head of the peloton
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Rain falls on Philippe Gilbert

Rain falls on Philippe Gilbert
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The flags of Flanders fly behind Freire and Serry

The flags of Flanders fly behind Freire and Serry
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) led home the chasing peloton

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) led home the chasing peloton
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) led home the chasing peloton

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) led home the chasing peloton
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Freire and Perry passed a fading Fabio Duarte in the final meters

Freire and Perry passed a fading Fabio Duarte in the final meters
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Oscar Freire (Katusha) sprints to second in the rain ahead of Pierre Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen)

Oscar Freire (Katusha) sprints to second in the rain ahead of Pierre Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen)
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Voeckler can breathe easy after a long solo attack

Voeckler can breathe easy after a long solo attack
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) solos to the win in the 2012 Brabantse Pijl

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) solos to the win in the 2012 Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team )

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team )
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Pierre Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen) happy to be on the podium

Pierre Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen) happy to be on the podium
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Lotto-Belisol director Marc Sargeant chats with Francis De Greef at the start.

Lotto-Belisol director Marc Sargeant chats with Francis De Greef at the start.
(Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) before the start

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) before the start
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the podium

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The podium

The podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The podium

The podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Kisses for race winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)

Kisses for race winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) triumphs after an audacious solo effort

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) triumphs after an audacious solo effort
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Riding alone to victory, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had plenty of time to celebrate

Riding alone to victory, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had plenty of time to celebrate
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the podium with his son

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the podium with his son
(Image credit: Sirotti)

French star Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) showed off his good form and rode to a solo victory through hail and rain at the Brabantse Pijl-La Flèche Brabançonne in Overijse, Belgium. The 32-year-old attacked a diminished peloton on wet roads 35km from the finish and despite efforts from local riders Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol), the Frenchman went the distance.

Voeckler endured stints of heavy precipitation in the final kilometres but rode flawlessly over the tricky parcours to claim his first victory of the 2012 season, 1:11 ahead of a chase group led in by Oscar Freire (Katusha and Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator).

"I'm really happy to have won my first race of the season," Voeckler told Sporza. "I love this race and finished fifth some years ago [sixth in 2010-ed.]. On the wet roads it was hard to ride in the peloton and since there were no more strong teams to control the race I tried something. I figured some would come back but that didn't happen. I wanted to get a gap of a minute as soon as possible to take away the believe in the chase group. I've got the legs for these races. I would love to do a good result at the Amstel Gold Race but this result doesn't mean anything. It's not a specific goal because there's a lot of strong men at the start."

In Voeckler's wake a chase group featuring pre-race favorites Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) and three-time winner Oscar Freire (Katusha) battled for second place but they were surprised by a move from Fabio Duarte (Colombia Coldeportes) with four kilometres remaining. The 25-year-old Colombian rider appeared to have second place secured, but as he struggled in the tough finale he was passed by Freire and Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) on the final straight within sight of the finish line; Duarte finished fourth while Greg Van Avermaet won the sprint for fifth place.

"The winner of today was the strongest," said Freire. "He raced really good and attacked at a difficult moment. He was the best rider in the race."

The Spaniard held off Serry in the sprint but nevertheless the young Belgian was pleased with his result. "I can't believe it," Serry told Sporza. "I've been aiming to do well in these races but I didn't expect to be this good. I saved some energy in the last lap and had something left to follow Freire."

The peloton featuring last year's winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC) finished two minutes behind Voeckler. Pre-race favorite Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) crashed before the finale got underway and never played a role in the race's outcome.

Much earlier and in sunny weather conditions the riders rolled out of the historical center of university town Leuven, Belgium for the start of the 195km race.

After several attempts Daniel Schorn (Team NetApp) set-up a breakaway group with Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Artem Ovechkin (RusVelo). The trio powered away after 30km of racing and reached a maximum gap of more than five minutes, 64km into the race. Just before arriving near the finish town Overijse and its endless series of climbs, rain and hail came down on the riders' backs.

On the wet roads Andy Schleck crashed together with some other riders on a roundabout 69km from the finish. It took a long time for the RadioShack-Nissan rider to bridge back up to the peloton where the BMC team of Philippe Gilbert as well as Rabobank set a fast pace. The Luxembourger drafted behind the team car for a long time, received a couple of pushes and eventually joined the back side of the peloton about six kilometres later, just before the next climb. On that climb, the Hagaard, Schleck didn't move up in the group and he quickly sat up. Ten kilometres later Schleck crossed the finish line for the first of four 13km finishing laps, more than three minutes behind the peloton.

Tough finale in Overijse

In advance of starting the first finishing circuit, 2011 champion Philippe Gilbert accelerated twice on the climbs of the Hertstraat and then on the Ijskelderlaan without causing much damage. Some more accelerations followed including efforts from Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Jerôme Pineau (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). While off the front alone, Pineau crashed on a tricky, twisting descent towards the final climb of the Schavei. Meanwhile, at the front of the race, Schorn dropped his breakaway companions on that series of climbs and he continued solo while the peloton trailed the Austrian by 1:40.

During the first finishing circuit Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) attacked on the cobbled Hertstraat. He gained some ground but a counter-attack from Gilbert and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) brought everybody back together. On the same descent where Pineau had crashed, his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammate Gerald Ciolek also hit the deck.

Schorn began the second local lap with half a minute on Belkov and 1:10 on the peloton. During this lap Thomas Voeckler powered away from the peloton over the top of the Hagaard, 35km from the finish line. Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Vanendert failed to bring back Voeckler on the next climb and the Frenchman was gone.

In the chase group Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) showed his good form on the climbs but he, too, came to grief on the twisting descent which had already claimed Pineau and Ciolek.

Meanwhile, Voeckler blasted past Schorn and hit the penultimate lap with 23 seconds on the first chase group that included Van Avermaet, Vanendert, Devenyns, Oscar Freire (Katusha), Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda) and a tired Schorn; the peloton trailed Voeckler by 47 seconds.

Voeckler continued to extend his lead over the chase group and entering the final lap of the finishing circuit his advantage over the chasers had grown to 1:10. Just prior to beginning the final lap, Fabio Duarte (Colombia Coldeportes) escaped the peloton and quickly bridged to the chasers.

Voeckler further extended his gap over the chase group on his way to a commanding solo victory amidst stints of rain and hail. Duarte attacked the chase group with four kilometres remaining but was caught and passed by both Freire and Serry inside the final 200m, resulting in a fourth place finish behind the Spaniard and Belgian.

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar4:49:07
2Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team0:01:11
3Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
4Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:01:14
5Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:17
6Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Barracuda
7Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
8Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma - QuickStep
9Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:01:27
10Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team0:01:54
11Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech powered by C100:01:56
12Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:58
13Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
14Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Barracuda
15Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
16Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan
17Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
18Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team
19Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
20Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Barracuda
21Nelson Oliveira (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
22Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar
23Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
24Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Argos-Shimano
25Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - QuickStep
26Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
27Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
28Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha Team
29Jordi Simon Casulleras (Spa) Andalucia0:02:09
30Brian Bulgac (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team0:02:19
31Thierry Hupond (Fra) Argos-Shimano
32Johan Chaves Rubio (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes
33Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
34Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:02:23
35Jose Vicente Toribio Alcolea (Spa) Andalucia0:02:42
36Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan0:03:11
37Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team Netapp
38Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo Bank0:04:02
39Yann Huguet (Fra) Argos-Shimano
40Wilson Alexandro Marentes Torres (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:04:47
41Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:05:11
42Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:05:30
43Federico Canuti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
44Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma - QuickStep0:05:53

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