Franco Belge won by Robbie McEwen

Robbie McEwen for the second time overall Franco Belge overall winner, Russell Downing denied after break is brought back.

By winning the 4th and last stage of the Tour de Wallonie Picarde (the former Circuit Franco Belge), Robbie McEwen re-took the yellow jersey and is the overall winner. McEwen, who won 12 stages in the Tour de France as well as in the Tour of Italy, won this stage race previously in 2002.

“This was not expected today,” said race winner Robbie McEwen.  “This was a hard stage with seven climbs of the Col de la Croix de Jubaru.  Despite the heat I felt good today and actually felt better and better as the stage went on.  I knew that I could take the overall victory by winning the stage and when Veelers or Sutton were not in the top three.  And that’s what happened. To be honest, this was an easy sprint for me. I choose the right wheel, that of Sutton and could easily pass him. This proves I’m still there in cycling.”

In Tournai he took his fifth victory of the season for Team RadioShack, but for the 39-year-old rider, the season is not over yet.  “Oh, yes, the season is not over yet.  I hope I can show the same fast legs in Paris-Tours. That would be nice. I’ve never won that race.”

Team Director Dirk Demol added,  “Again I have big respect for the rider Robbie McEwen.  I admire his motivation.  January through October, it doesn’t matter for McEwen. There was nice work from the team too.   We didn’t have to defend the leader’s jersey but we were in all of the breaks. First Shalunov was in a break of 11.  Then he was alone for 30k.  In the end Kwiatkowski and Lequatre were also in breaks.  But it ended in a sprint and Robbie created the crowning moment.  We are very satisfied.”

After the 2011 season Robbie McEwen will relocate back to Australia and will start his last season as he always has. “I will do some Australian races, followed by Qatar or Oman and the Flemish classics. Then it will be over and out,” McEwen concluded.

For Team Sky, Russell Downing made the day’s break. A number of groups moved clear, eventually combining to create an 11-man collective which featured riders from each of the top three teams on the GC. Russell Downing infiltrated the move on behalf of the Sky team and with the peloton happy to let the break go the riders worked together well to carve out a gap of over five minutes ahead of entry to the day’s pivotal finishing circuit.

Michael Rogers of Team Sky put in a powerful turn to bridge across with just over two laps remaining in a bid to keep the move going and took three bonus seconds of his own at the penultimate sprint. Things came back together as the riders hit the bell lap with Ian Stannard and Hayman forced into policing a number of dangerous moves which threatened to go clear.

Final Overall
1     Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team RadioShack     14:43:44
2     Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil – Shimano     0:00:05
3     Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling

7     Adam Blythe (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto     0:00:15
79     Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
113     Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:00:48
123     Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo     0:01:33
149     Russell Downing (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:09:47

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