It may have taken until just before the end of the season, but Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) managed to take his first win today on a treacherous, frozen course in Eeklo, Belgium. Wellens has been on a long road back to the top after battling back from a debilitating virus.

Wellens made the early split with his teammate, World Champ Zdenek Stybar, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus). While the favorites watched one another, Wellens put in a well-timed attack and took the win solo. Vanthourenhout was next across the line from the group, edging out perennial podiumer Nys by three seconds. Another 20 seconds back, Albert just beat Stybar for fourth.

American Jonathan Page started fast, going solo during the second lap to try to connect with Wellens, but an ill-timed mechanical forced him from the race just a lap later. Page was among an unusually large number of competitors, 11 in all, including Britian’s Ian Field, who abandoned the race.

“This is a season to quickly forget. I would have rather won Sunday in front of my home crowd, but this one they can’t take away from me,” Wellens said, referring to tomorrow’s Superprestige finale in Vorselaar, Belgium.

Wellens, who has been wearing a holter monitor to track his heartbeat all week following an episode of tachycardia during a race last weekend, told reporters the study did not reveal anything unusual. “Did I have my heart studied by a monitor this week?” he said. “Yes, but it was nothing special. Just a little test. This victory is good for my heart.”

Albert and Stybar come into the Superprestige series finale locked in a dead heat. Perhaps today’s tight battle just behind the fight for the podium was a precursor of tomorrow’s showdown. Although Stybar promises to fight for the series, he told Gazet van Antwerpen that he thinks Albert deserves the title, based on his season-long consistency. “If the sport is fair, Niels wins,” said Stybar.

Full Results:

1Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
2Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
3Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
4Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
5Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
6Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
7Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor
8Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank Continental Team
9Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco – Revor Cycling Team
10Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb Revor
11Martin Zlamalik (Cze)
12Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
13Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team
14Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
15Gianni Denolf (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
16Kacper Szczepaniak (Pol) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
17Vinnie Braet (Bel) Sunweb Revor
18Ben Berden (Bel) Qin Cycling Team
19Kevin Cant (Bel) AVB Cycling Team
20Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Sunweb Revor
21Jim Aernouts (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
22Jan Soetens (Bel) Colba-Mercuryploeg
23Bjorn Rondelez (Bel) Lingier Versluys Beachbikers Team Vzw
24Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol) Baboco – Revor Cycling Team
25Dries Pauwels (Bel) Empella Czech Team
26Sam Govaert (Bel)
27Bert De Backer (Bel)