Wallonie win for Nizzolo
Hat-trick ride from Napolitano
Last Updated: July 25, 2012 7:10pm
Nizzolo: All smiles on the podium
Giacomo Nizzolo wrapped up the overall victory at the Tour de Wallonie after Danilo Napolitano had sealed his third stage win in Belgium.
Nizzolo was well guarded by his RadioShack team-mates throughout the final day of action, and crossed the line safely inside the front bunch to consolidate his one-second advantage over Pim Lighart (Vacansoleil) at the top of the overall standings.
Moments before that had occurred, Napolitano (Acqua & Sapone) had claimed his hat-trick by outsprinting Gianni Meersman (Lotto) by the closest of margins.
In fact, so tight was the Italian's winning advantage, that Meersman actually thought he had snatched victory, and flung his arms aloft in what proved to be a premature celebration. Team Sky's Davide Appollonio was less than half a wheel further back in third, with team-mate Luke Rowe hanging on for fifth place on the day after his well-timed lead out.
The 179.2km passage from Welkenraedt was tightly controlled from the off and only 89km remained before the first break of the day made it up the road.
That move initially contained Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen) - who was just 15 seconds down on GC - although he dropped back after taking maximum points on the day's third intermediate sprint which left Maxime Anciaux (Idemasport) and Julien Bérard (AG2R) to press on as a twosome.
Anciaux would eventually fall off the pace as well, and despite a late attempt to bridge over to Bérard from Boris Dron and Christophe Prémont (both Wallonie), the peloton was back as one as they passed under the 10km to go banner.
By that point RadioShack were still at the head of affairs, but as they swept into Perwez, Team Sky had assumed control for a second day in succession.
The British team couldn't make that dominance count though as Appollonio lost Rowe's wheel on the final corner of the day, and Napolitano and Meermans both made amends by racing ahead and ultimately battling out the closest of contests which would see the Italian emerge victorious.