Van Avermaet wins Tour de Wallonie

Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team (Sirotti)

BMC's Greg Van Avermaet won the Tour de Wallonie after claiming the fifth stage of the Belgian race in a sprint finish.

The finish suited me well and it was great work by my teammates.

Van Avermaet, who led the race going into the final stage, finished ahead of his two closest rivals on the general classification, Joost Van Leijen (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Ben Hermans (RadioShack)

"The finish suited me well and it was great work by my teammates," said Van Avermaet. "Every day they were there to help me. This is definitely a highlight of my career."

Van Avermaet entered the final 154-kilometer stage tied on time with Joost Van Leijen (Vacansoleil).

Teammates Mathias Frank, Martin Kohler and John Murphy spent the majority of the race on the front to chase down a breakaway.

After the break containing Christophe Premont (Wallonie Bruxelles - Crédit Agricole (Belgium)), Romain Lemarchand (AG2R), Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Jesse Sergent (RadioShack) and Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ) was caught, BMC's Taylor Phinney and Alexander Kristoff kept the race together in the final 10 kilometers and Alessandro Ballan led Van Avermaet onto the cobbled climb to the finish of the Mur de Thuin.

From there Van Avermaet outsprinted Van Leijen to take the win and the overall title by four seconds.

"I've known Greg for a long time and he's always been a winner," BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Rik Verbrugghe said. "So to see him do well in Belgium, Austria and now here is great. He is on good form and we'll see if he can hold it through to San Sebastian on Saturday."

Van Avermaet's victory marks the fourth stage race won by the BMC Racing Team in 2011, adding to three by Cadel Evans (Tour de France, Tour de Romandie and Tirreno-Adriatico).

It is the first stage race victory of Van Avermaet's career and follows a runner-up finish overall at the Tour of Belgium in May. He also won a stage of the Tour of Austria earlier this month on the way to taking the sprint classification.

Stage 5: 163.3km, Charleroi to Thuin.

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC 3:21:53
2 Joost Van Leijen (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
3 Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack
4 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano
5 Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
6 Thomas Degand (Bel) Veranda's Willems-Accent
7 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
9 Michael Barry (Can) Sky
10 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

Final general classification:

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC 20:51:51
2 Joost Van Leijen (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM 0:00:04
3 Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack 0:00:22
4 Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM 0:00:30
5 Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
6 Thomas Degand (Bel) Veranda's Willems-Accent
7 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
8 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha 0:00:33
9 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano
10 Nikolas Maes (Bel) QuickStep 0:00:36

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