Cycling: Massive pile-up puts Greipel in place for victory

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The Independent Online

Andre Greipel took advantage of a huge pile-up not far from the finishing line to win the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana here yesterday.

The 225km (140 miles) ride from Venlo in the Netherlands across the border into Belgium was being set up for another massed sprint finish when, with less than three kilometres to go, one of the lead riders in the peloton slipped when going around a roundabout and caused a massive crash that affected all but six riders.

Those riders, three each from the Columbia and Quick Step teams, continued on and, when it came down to the final sprint, Greipel, who had finished fourth on each of the previous two days, powered away from Quick Step's Wouter Weylandt to take the stage. Greipel's Columbia team-mates Bert Grabsch and Marcel Sieberg finished third and fourth respectively.

Among the riders who were caught up in the late spill was overall leader Fabian Cancellara, but the crash did not cost him the gold jersey and he holds a nine-second lead over Tom Boonen, who moved up to second.

Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong has missed out on a potentially key member for his new team after American George Hincapie joined BMC Racing yesterday. Hincapie, who supported Armstrong throughout his seven Tour de France victories, was widely expected to join his RadioShack squad for next season. However, the 36-year-old has signed a two-year deal with BMC Racing, leaving Columbia where he was a key part of Mark Cavendish's lead-out train in the sprinter's Milan-San Remo Classic victory and 10 Tour de France stage wins in two seasons.