Sergei Firsanov finished 3rd in the uphill finish on the final day in the Tour of Belgium. Dmitry Kozontchuk sprinted in for 8th place, with Nikita Eskov also finishing in the small lead group. The ‘Classic-style’, 212-kilometer race featured 16 climbs and whittled down the peloton with the tough parcours.
It was a hard day for Tony Martin, who was isolated in the final 20 kilometers and forced to do the bulk of the work to keep all the breaks in check. With 10 kilometers remaining a group of 5 escaped but never gained more than 15 seconds. They were caught on the finishing climb where Carlos Alberto Betancur (Aqua&Sapone) jumped, taking the win ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor). Firsanov stormed around Phillip Gilbert (BMC) in the last meters, to take third. The strong finish of the RusVelo riders resulted in the overall victory in the team classification.
“It was a very difficult day, with the same climbs like the Belgium Classics. We played it smart and saved our power for the last 40 kilometers, because with a race like this it is who has the legs left for the last climbs,” RusVelo director Egon van Kessel stated shortly after the hard, final stage was completed. “A very good result again from our team, from everyone. I am super happy. Maybe with longer climbs Firsanov could win as that suits him better, but he did very well today. Of course the icing on the cake is the win of the overall team classification. This shows how strong we were during this stage race.”
Tony Martin won the overall classification, with Lieuwe Westra (Vancansoleil-DCM) and Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Rabobank) rounding out the top three. Sergei Firsanov narrowly missed the final podium taking 4th in the overall, only 9 seconds short of mounting the third place step.