HTC-Highroad ended the Ster ZLM Toer as it began, with victories bookending the Dutch stage race.
Patrick Gretsch won the opener on Wednesday while Leigh Howard claimed his first win on the 2011 season by blasting through a technical final kilometer to cross the line victorious.
“It’s a great way to complete the event for him, and for the team too. We’ve had victories at both ends of the race and we led overall for the first three days too. It’s difficult to ask for more,” said HTC-Highroad sports director Jan Schaffrath.
“Our goal for today was to work for Leigh in the sprint, but it was a very difficult stage with a lot of rain, wind and storms,” he continued. “The run-in was not easy either, I counted five speed bumps in the last couple of kilometers and other ‘road furniture’ too, but Leigh came through well.”
Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert, meanwhile, finished in the main pack to secure the overall title. The Belgian powered into the leader’s jersey Saturday with an impressive stage victory to carry fresh momentum into next weekend’s national championships.
Gilbert has won back-to-back stage races, with victory here and at the Tour of Belgium last month.
The win also brings Gilbert’s victory haul to 11 on the 2011 season.
- 1. Leigh Howard (Aus), HTC-Highroad, 4:42:03
- 2. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg), Saxobank-Sungard, s.t.
- 3. Tyler Farrar (Usa), Garmin-Cervelo, s.t.
- 4. Davide Appollonio (Ita), Team Sky, s.t.
- 5. Adam Blyth (Gbr), Omega Pharma-Lotto, s.t.
- 1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Omega Pharma-Lotto, 19:02:16
- 2. Niki Terpstra (Ned), Quick Step, at 0:03
- 3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu), Garmin-Cervelo, at 0:15
- 4. Joost Van Leijen (Ned), Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0:36
- 5. David Tanner (Aus), Saxobank-Sungard, at 0:44