(Photo: Roberto Bettini)
Austrian rider Bernhard Eisel recorded the most prestigious victory of his career on Sunday when he won the Flemish one day classic Gent-Wevelgem. The 29-year-old prevailed in a sprint finish ahead of Belgian duo Sep Vanmarcke and Philippe Gilbert.
"This is my most celebrated victory," said Eisel. "And especially more so as before this edition it was a race that I really didn't like at all."
Eisel was one of six riders who managed to break away early, coping well with the strong headwind. But several of the pre-race favorites struggled, including Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel, who was out of contention as early as halfway through the race.
Eisel's group grew to 10 on the last climb of the race - Mount Kemmel - including Milan-Sanremo winner Oscar Freire and American veteran George Hincapie. However, the wind took its toll on Freire, who was unable to go with the pace set most prominently by Gilbert and was left trailing with 10km to the finish.
The 2009 winner Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway retired at halfway because of a painful Achilles tendon.Gent-Wevelgem, 217km
1. Bernhard Eisel (Aus/HTC-Columbia)
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel/Topsport Vlaanderen)
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Omega Pharma)
4. George Hincapie (USA/BMC)
5. Daniel Oss (Liquigas)
6. Jürgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma)
5. Daniel Oss (Ita/Liquigas)
6. Jürgen Roelandts (Bel/Omega Pharma)
7. Maksim Iglinski (Kaz/Astana)
8. Matti Breschel (Den/Saxo Bank)
9. Tyler Farrar (USA/Garmin-Transitions)
10. Luca Paolini (Ita/Aqua & Sapone)