At first, it wasn't completely clear who had won the stage. However, the finish photo left no room for discussion: Germany's André Greipel (on top) was the fastest man in Ninove (East Flanders), beating Dutchman Dany van Poppel (under) and Tom Boonen (the middle one of the left 3 riders).
The 181 km stage brought the peloton from Knokke-Heist to Ninove. The course included the rolling hills of the Flemish Ardennes, and the famous Bosberg climb. The Kongoberg was also on the menu. Rain, hail storms and gusts of wind made life hard for the riders.
World Champion Philippe Gilbert set up a solo effort in the final, but was caught by the peloton led by Greipel's Lotto-Belisol team: no first win for Gilbert in the rainbow jersey. In the final sprint, Greipel repeated yesterday's success.
Race leader Greipel now holds a 4 second advantage over Tom Boonen. Dany van Poppel follows in 3rd place, 14 seconds behind. Tomorrow, there is a time trial.Cycling fans are looking forward to the clash between Fabian Cancellara and last year's winner Tony Martin.