Shorts: Bettini, De Panne, Verbrugghe and Gilbert

Paolo Bettini to miss Sunday's Tour of Flanders, Stijn Devolder takes overall victory at the Three D

Paolo Bettini to miss Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, Stijn Devolder takes overall victory at the Three D

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Quick Step’s Paolo Bettini will miss this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders after a throat infection left him unable to train sufficiently in the build-up to the fourth round of the ProTour. “I have recovered fully, but I am still too weak to take part in such a difficult race as the Tour of Flanders,” Bettini explained. “It’s a shame, as I really like the race, but I have no option as I need to be in top form for the second part of the Classics,” he said, referring to Amstel Gold, Flche Wallonne and Lige-Bastogne-Lige on April 17, 20 and 24 respectively. Quick Step’s eight-man Flanders squad will be Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Marc Lotz, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato and Bram Tankink. – Belgian Discovery Channel rider Stijn Devolder wrapped up the overall at the Three Days of De Panne on Thursday, his fifth place in the afternoon’s time trial being enough to leapfrog stage one winner and erstwhile race leader Alessandro Ballan of Lampre. Ballan had protected his lead after stage two, won by Chocolade Jacques’ Nico Eeckhout, and Thursday morning’s third stage, where the victory went to Davitamon’s Tom Steels, had both ended in bunch sprints. But on the afternoon’s 14km time trial, Devolder was able to eat up Ballan’s four-second lead to eventually put another 16 seconds into the Italian. The stage was won by Devolder’s Discovery team-mate Viatcheslav Ekimov, while last year’s Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt put in a solid performance for fourth place on the stage with just over two weeks to go until ‘the Hell of the North’. Stage 2, Zottegem – Coxyde 1 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 237km in 5.43.34 2 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 3 Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Liquigas-Bianchi 4 Bernhardt Eisel (Aut) Francaise des Jeux 5 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi – Leader: Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre Stage 3, La Panne – La Panne 1 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 116km in 2.31.10 2 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Domina Vacanze 3 Stefan Van Dijck (Hol) 4 Bernhardt Eisel (Aut) Francaise des Jeux 5 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – Leader: Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre Stage 4, La Panne, individual time trial 1 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel 14km in 16.48 2 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.01 3 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.07 4 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas-Bianchi 5 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel 0.08 Final overall 1 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel 13.15.16 2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre 0.16 3 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.24 4 Luis Sanchez (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.44 5 Roberto Petito (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 0.45 – Belgian pros Philippe Gilbert and Rik Verbrugghe are recovering after being hit by a car while out training on Wednesday. Quick Step’s Verbrugghe was left with a broken finger, while Francaise des Jeux rider Gilbert required 15 stitches to his face. “There was a long line of cars stopped, probably because of some road works, and Philippe and I started to go past them on the left,” Verbrugghe explained to Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. “Suddenly, a car pulled out in front of us to do a U-turn. We were going at 35-40kph and couldn’t avoid it.”