By Andrew Hood
Discovery Channel rider Vladimir Gusev won the overall title in the Tour of Belgium on Sunday. The Russian classics specialist finished 39 seconds ahead of Maaten Tjallingii with Leif Hoste nabbing third at 40 seconds back.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) snagged his first win since returning to competition after a three-week break to recover from injury after sprinting to victory in the 148.8km final stage from Aywaille to Putte. Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) was second with Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) coming through third. Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) was 10th.
“This morning I asked my teammates to take me up to the sprint,” Boonen said in a press release. “I wanted to force myself to my limit in order to see how things would go after breaking the big toe of my right foot and bad bruising to my shin. I am still in quite a bit of pain and am not at 100 percent but I’m still able to push myself to the limit.”
The win was Boonen’s ninth on the year and gives him a confidence boost as he looks toward his next major goals at the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de France.
“The Tour of Belgium has given me the chance to get back into the racing rhythm, but to be honest, I didn’t think I’d be ready to try my luck at the final sprint. I am very satisfied,” Boonen said. “On Tuesday evening I’ll be flying off to Monte Carlo where I’ll be training for the Tour de Dauphine which is another important step towards the Tour de France.”
Schumacher wins Bayern
Gerolsteiner’s Stefan Schumacher won on home roads to take the overall in the Bayern Rundfahrt, which wrapped up Sunday with a bunch sprint.
Schumacher, who moved into the leader’s jersey after winning Saturday’s 24km time trial, finished safely in the main bunch in the mass sprint finish. Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) was second at nine seconds back while Team CSC put four riders into the top 10, with Jens Voigt taking third at 15 seconds adrift.
Sebastian Siedler won the 160km finale ahead of Milram teammate Erik Zabel, who won two stages in his return to racing just a week after confessing that he used EPO during the 1996 Tour de France. Milram endorsed Zabel’s continuance with the team and the sprinter was welcomed with rousing ovations from the fans.
Di Luca leads ProTour standings
Danilo Di Luca’s overall victory in the Giro d’Italia pushed him atop the leaderboard for the season-long ProTour rankings. The Liquigas captain – who won the inaugural ProTour series in 2005 – bounced from third to first after winning two stages and the overall during the three-week Italian tour.
Other Giro riders moved up thanks to strong performances, with Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) bouncing from 22nd to fourth after claiming fifth at the Giro. Andy Schleck (CSC), second overall, shot from 56th to sixth, while Riccardo Riccò, winner at Tre Cime, moved into the top 10 from 44th.
Schleck’s strong performance helped Team CSC bolster its lead in the team rankings with 193 points. The Danish outfit has won back-to-back ProTour team titles and holds an 18-point lead against Ag2r and 19 points against Di Luca’s Liquigas team.
Individual standings after Giro d’Italia
(x)=previous position1. (3) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, 207pts
2. (1) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, 157
3. (2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne, 107
4. (22) Damiano Cunego, Lampre-Fondital, 87
5. (4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 82
6. (56) Andy Schleck, CSC, 81
7. (5) Stuart O’Grady, 79
8. (6) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, 75
9. (44) Riccardo Riccò, Saunier Duval, 71
10. (20) Paolo Savoldelli, Astana, 66
11. (7) Frank Schleck, CSC, 63
12. (8) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, 62
13. (17) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, 61
14. (-) Gilberto Simoni, Saunier Duval, 61
15. (9) Alberto Contador, Discovery, 58
16. (10) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 57
17. (59) Alessandro Petacchi, Milram, 56
18. (11) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, 55
19. (-) Eddy Mazzoleni, Astana, 54
20. (12) Andreas Klöden, Astana, 53
Team standings after Giro d’Italia
1. Team CSC, 193pts
2. Ag2r, 175
3. Liquigas, 174
4. Saunier Duval-Prodir, 163
5. Astana, 161
6. Discovery Channel, 149
7. Caisse d’Epargne, 148
8. Rabobank, 145
9. Quick Step-Innergetic ,139
10. T-Mobile, 133
11. Predictor-Lotto, 125
12. Lampre-Fondital, 120
13. Gerolsteiner, 118
14. Crédit Agricole, 102
15. Bouygues Telecom, 96
16. Team Milram, 80
17. Euskaltel-Euskadi, 80
18. Cofidis, 74
19. FDJeux, 72
20. Unibet.com, 69
Record media coverage for Giro
Media coverage soared to new heights during the 90th Giro d’Italia, with 980 journalists and 335 photographers accredited during the three-week Italian tour.
Nearly 80 Italian dailies and 27 foreign newspapers were represented along with 12 national magazines and 18 foreign magazines (VeloNews among them).
Five national TV stations were joined by eight foreign television channels, including two from Norway, which were on hand to follow Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) and Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole).