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Mark Renshaw (Belkin) won the opening stage at the Eneco Tour on Monday.
Renshaw, who recently signed a contract to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step for next season, broke away from the peloton with two kilometers left in the 175km stage from Koksijde to Ardooie in Belgium. He was able to hold off the charging field by two seconds at the line, with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) taking second and Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) placing third.
Renshaw leads Greipel by six seconds in the GC standings thanks to time bonuses, while Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) is one more tick back in third.
“I went as fast as I could through the last couple of corners; I took some risks,” Renshaw said in a Belkin team release. “Merijn Zeeman shouted in my ear that I needed to give one hundred percent and that’s what I did. I’m pretty good at keeping a high speed over a longer distance.”
Renshaw added that he didn’t look back at the oncoming peloton in the final 200 meters of the race.
Just nine days after winning the stage 7 time trial at the Tour of Poland, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) struggled in the last 10km of the race and finished with the grupetto, 3:50 behind Renshaw.
The seven-day race continues Tuesday with a 177km stage from Ardooie to Forest.