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Greipel wins 3rd stage of Tour Down Under

Updated: January 19, 2012, 01:26

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Germany's Andre Greipel won the third stage of cycling's Tour Down Under in a bunch sprint on Thursday to regain the overall lead he lost a day earlier.

Greipel, riding for the Belgium-based Lotto-Belisol team, started the 84-mile stage from Unley in suburban Adelaide to Victor Harbor two seconds behind Switzerland's Martin Kohler on general classification.

His second stage win of the 2012 tour - he won the first stage on Tuesday and has won 10 stages of the Australian event overall - allowed him to reclaim the tour leader's ocher jersey.

Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus, riding for FDJ-Big MAT, was second in the stage and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, from Britain's Sky Procycling team, was third.

Greipel won the Tour Down Under in 2008 and 2010. He was also the winner of the criterium prelude to this year's tour, the Down Under Classic.

Riders battled strong crosswinds throughout Thursday's stage which took riders through undulating grape growing country on the exposed Fleurieu Peninsula.

"It's always a tricky stage with the wind and I was quite nervous with the corners at the finish, but crossing the line first can't be any better,'' Greipel said. "We have reached our goals for this year (at the Tour Down Under).''

Greipel's stage win gave him the lead on general classification after three of six stages from Kohler, who is eight seconds behind.

Australia's Michael Matthews is a further four seconds back and Belgium's Thomas de Gendt is 14 seconds behind Greipel.

De Gendt, of the Netherlands-based Vaconsoleil-DCM team, was part of a four-man breakaway which led through the early and middle parts of Thursday's stage.

With the Katusha rider Eduard Vorgnov of Russia, Belgium's Jan Vakelants, of the U.S.-based Radioshack team, and Mattew Brammeier of Ireland, de Gendt led until the 92-kilometer point and by a peak margin of almost five minutes.

The peleton was together for the remaining 40 kilometers of the stage, swept by strong winds which made further breakaways difficult.

The approach to the finish line on the esplanade at Victor Harbor included a number of traffic roundabouts which tightened the 131-rider field and added a new tactical element.

Several teams, including Rabobank and BMC, took turns at the front of the peleton in the final stages before Greipel burst clear to claim the stage win. His 10 stage wins place him second on the all time list behind Australia's Robbie McEwen with 12.

Greipel dedicated his stage win to teammate Jurgen Roelandts, who suffered a neck injury in a fall near the end of Wednesday's second stage. The Belgian rider remains in Royal Adelaide Hospital.

"This victory is for Jurgen Roelandts who unfortunately supports us from the hospital,'' Greipel said. "We're nearly three riders down, but the rest of the team that is not injured has been awesome today.''

Friday's fourth stage takes riders 80 miles from Norwood to Tanunda.

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