Gilbert dominates on home turf
Stage win and yellow jersey for Belgian star
Last Updated: 18/06/11 7:04pm
Gilbert: 10th win of the season
Philippe Gilbert claimed the 10th win of his remarkable season by outsprinting his late breakaway rivals on the fourth stage of Ster Elektrotoer.
The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider was back on home turf after the race switched from Holland to Belgium for the hilliest stage of the tour, and edged ahead with seven other riders shortly before they began the two concluding laps of La Gileppe.
With the chase group hindered by a late thunderstorm, the escapees managed to stay away, and it was Gilbert who produced his characteristic late burst to beat Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step), Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin) and Joost van Leijen (Vacansoleil) in a three-way battle for the victory.
That result also saw Gilbert move into the yellow jersey with just one sprint stage remaining, although Terpstra is sitting just one second adrift.
The rain had fallen intermittently during the 184km trek from Verviers but that didn’t deter five riders from moving ahead early in the day and opening up a four-minute advantage during the first 35km.
With Gilbert clearly on form, his team-mates worked hard to bring that group back before they reached the destination town, and almost immediately after the catch had been made, the 28-year-old jumped clear with just seven riders on his wheel.
Team Sky’s Davide Appollonio produced a determined move to bridge the gap over as the day neared its conclusion, but that would ultimately prove unsuccessful and Bart de Clercq dug deep to help Gilbert out before he pressed on for what could prove to be a decisive victory.