Greipel wins Belgium Tour opener for third consecutive time

German sprinter tops Tom Boonen to take red in a Tour de France dress rehearsal

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BRUSSELS (AFP) — André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won stage 1 of the Baloise Belgium Tour on Wednesday in Knokke-Heist.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was second and Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano) was third.

Greipel took the four-day race’s first red leader’s jersey. Thanks to time bonuses, the German will start Thursday’s second stage four seconds ahead of Boonen and six ahead of Sinkeldam.

Greipel’s Lotto train took things in hand in the last two kilometers to launch his sprint perfectly for his eighth victory the season and third consecutive win in the Belgian tour’s opener.

“In Lotto, we are currently engaged in the development of our train for sprints at the Tour de France,” said Greipel. “There are things to improve, but it is automatic, with Jurgen Roelandts in particular. The Tour of Belgium is an excellent rehearsal.”

The Tour of Belgium continues Thursday with the 178km second stage, from Knokke-Heist to Ninove.