After the difficult stage around Fl?ron opened up the time gaps on the GC at the Tour of Belgium, all that remained was for the riders to attempt to solidify positions in the individual time trial on Sunday.
In the final stage a 16.7 km time-trial Lars Boom finished in second six seconds behind stage winner Sebastien Rosseler. Stef Clement, another Rabo-rider finished third. Jurgen Roelandts fo Silence/Lotto was off the pace by ten seconds for fourth with another Rabobank rider Koos Moerenhout making it three for the team in the top 5.
In the final ranking Rabobank was outstanding with Lars Boom as overall winner and Koos Moerenhout in second. Silence-Lotto riders Thomas Dekker and Greg van Avermaet completed the top five.
The 16.7 kilometer affair challenged the racers with a fairly hilly course which gave a good indication of who is on form. Mathias Frank looking to test his fitness for the upcoming Dauphin?-Lib?r?, road a very strong stage and snagged another top 10 finish for the team. Quick Step’s S?bastien Rosseler won the stage while Rabobank’s Lars Boom defended his Saturday lead in order to win the overall.
"It was a very good day for me since I was feeling good and the course was not totally flat," Frank explained. "Already on the trainer I was feeling strong and I am happy to have done so well because it is particularly important for me to have gotten a top 10 result in competition like this." Since he lost time in earlier stages, Frank was not in a position to challenge for a place on the GC, however he feels that the racing sensations he experienced all week bode well for his chances in France.
"On the first stage I had to work chasing for the team which meant I lost a bit of time in the end," Frank explained. "But that was okay for me because the work I did was a very good test for myself to see how my condition has come along after Picardie." After having finished 11th at the Tour of Picardie, Frank was sick with a fever and consequently couldn’t train entirely according to plan this past week. "Since I was sick and couldn’t really train as well as I wanted, I wasn’t certain where my form would be this week, but the stages have given me a good chance to see how I am doing and so I can go into the Dauphin? with a lot of confidence," Frank explained.
"Looking to the results for the stage we had three guys in the top 20 with Brent and Ian also making it along with Mathias," John Lelangue said. "That means we had two guys in the top 20 on the GC with Thomas and Brent, which I think is a really good result for us." Though the Tour of Belgium has been an important race on the calendar for the team, BMC has also been racing it with an eye to gauging their strengths with the Dauphin? shortly on the horizon. "We are very happy with the group of riders that we have racing these one week stage races," Lelangue explained.
"Though we are changing out one or two rider per race, we have a core group of six who are working as a team, who know each other and really are improving every race; there is a definite family spirit among these guys and that’s great." Another encouraging aspect of the team’s success has been that their youngest riders are often the ones giving the best performances. "On the global vision, I am very happy with the team’s progress particularly since our young riders are showing themselves so well," Lelangue revealed. "Our guys who are in just their second year of Euro racing like Brent Bookwalter, Ian McKissick and Mathias Frank are improving every stage race we do; they are really the future of the team."
The excellent overall team performance which found BMC finishing 5th in the team classification has been an encouraging sign that all systems are working well before one of the most important races of the year for the team. "This will be the first time for most of us racing the Dauphin?, and I only know the stages from TV," Frank said. "The whole team is riding very well and I know that John will put together the strongest team possible for the event."
Lelangue believes that the team is working well together and building confidence for their stage-race-packed second half of the season. "In Belgium we saw the team working perfectly together, always present at the front and in the breaks," Lelangue said. "We have also seen several riders give stand out performances like Mathias Frank who has bee really impressive, and this is all good news now that we are heading for the Dauphin? and will have several very important stage races as objectives in the second half of the season."
2009 Tour of Belgium
Final General Classification
1 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 17.56.30
2 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank 0.18
3 Dominique Cornu (Bel) Quick Step 0.28
4 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Silence-Lotto 0.32
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto 1.11
6 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil
7 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 1.26
8 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto 1.33
9 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha 1.59
10 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator 2.12