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Boom Blasts to ENECO Victory; Ballan Wins on Muur

Lars Boom of Rabobank took off after BMC's Alessandro Ballan on the upper slopes of the Muur van Geraardsbergen in the last few minutes of the final ENECO Tour stage, setting up a classic two-up battle on the famed cobblestoned climb, won by Ballan, and overall victory for the Dutchman. Overall leader Svein Tuft of Orica GreenEdge was hanging around the back of the peloton as the race approached the final 8km loop around Geraardsbergen, but was in no position to stay close as the race blew apart on the cobbles.

Boom, starting the day at 4 seconds back of Tuft and 12" ahead of Niki Terpstra Sylvain Chavanel, was at full strength today, summiting the second Muur passage with 26km to go in solid form. BMC had Marcus Burghardt and Greg Van Avermaet up front, sort of controlling things and with Burghardt setting the tempo. A group of seven including Niki Terpstra (+27") were briefly away after the second passage, but things regrouped with only Jan Bakelandts up the road, by as much as 40", as the peloton geared up for the finish. Bram Tankink helped his teammate Boom by reeling in Bakelandts, with BMC on the job too.

With matters under control and Tuft too far back, looking all the world like a guy who wasn't planning on defending his lead in the final climb, the race returned to Geraardsbergen for the last climb of the Kappelmuur. It was there that Burghardt charged again, virtually handslinging Ballan up the climb, reminiscent of the 2007 Tour of Flanders, only the role of Leif Hoste was played by a grateful and opportunistic Boom. The Dutchman's acceleration left the pack in arrears but for Ballan up ahead, and the two joined forces immediately to form an unbeateable duo over the last 3km.

As the race wound back down into town for the last short uphill Boom found himself on the front, giving the advantage to Ballan. With the overall win secured, Boom eschewed the usual games that would happen if this were actually the classic from which stage was born. Ballan was strong enough to finish it off regardless, with Boom two seconds back, the overall win and valuable UCI points assured. A small crash tangled up the race for third, won by Francisco Ventoso. Final GC:

  1. Lars Boom, Rabobank
  2. Sylvain Chavanel, OPQS
  3. Niki Terpstra, OPQS
  4. Alberto Contador, Saxo-Tinkoff
  5. Luke Durbridge, Orica GreenEdge