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Greipel wins 1st stage of Tour Down Under

Updated: January 17, 2012, 04:34

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Two-time champion Andre Greipel of Germany overcame fierce crosswinds and soaring temperatures to win the 90-mile first stage on the Tour Down Under on Tuesday.

Greipel edged Alessandro Petacchi of Italy in a sprint finish in 102-degree temperatures to claim his ninth stage victory in the six-stage race, the opening event of the UCI World Tour.

The sprint ace also won the tour's criterium prelude on Sunday for the Belgium-based Lotto-Belisol team. He won the Tour Down Under in 2008 and 2010.

Petacchi took second place for the Lampre-ISD team, while Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus was third and Fabio Sabatini of Italy fourth.

Greipel avoided a late crash involving up to 60 riders and was again helped to victory by the powerful leadout train of the Lotto-Belisol team.

"I'm lucky I won today,'' Greipel said. "There was a massive crash with 800 meters to go.''

Greipel's teammate, 26-year-old Belgian Jurgen Roelandts, injured his neck in the pileu and was taken to Adelaide Hospital by ambulance.

French rider Frederic Guesdon was taken to hospital for X-rays on his hip, and Italy's Matteo Montaguti of the French Ag2r La Mondiale team was treated for a broken collarbone.

"It was a huge crash,'' Australian veteran Robbie McEwen said. "But as far as crashes go I had a good one. I went off on the right, hit the gravel, but thankfully I didn't lose any skin.

"There were blokes down on the road all over the place.''

Tour director Mike Turtur said the crash occurred when three riders tangled as they jockeyed for position in the fast, downhill run to the finish. A 70-year-old woman spectator was struck by one of the falling riders and was treated for minor injuries.

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