German sprint specialist Andre Greipel recorded his seventh win of the season in the Netherlands on Tuesday as the Omega Pharma rider won the first stage of the Eneco Tour.
However, it wasn’t enough for the 29-year-old to take the overall lead, as young US star Taylor Phinney retained the lead he took when he won the prologue on Monday.
Greipel, winner of the Tour of Spain points jersey two years ago, edged out Russian Denis Galimzyanov, US star Tyler Farrar and Theo Bos of the Netherlands.
Phinney finished seventh in the final sprint, which involved around 15 riders after the peloton had been split apart when there was a big crash 500m from the line.
Phinney, who leads Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen in the overall standings, said he was relieved to have avoided being involved in the crash, while Greipel said the accident was no surprise.
“There wasn’t a lot of space and it was pretty narrow in the final straight,” said Greipel, winner of seven stages on the major Tours in his career.
“However, I managed to sort myself out. Tomorrow [Wednesday], it will be another stage for the sprinters. I hope that things work out for me as well as they did today,” he said.
The final crash was one of a series during the stage that saw French duo Sebastien Minard and Arnaud Labbe forced to retire from the race.
The retirements could see Belgian classics specialist Philippe Gilbert supplant Australia’s Tour de France champion Cadel Evans as world No. 1.
Yesterday’s second stage was a 173.7km ride in Belgium, beginning in Aalter and finishing at Ardooie.