With the departure of Alessandro Petacchi due to a broken kneecap, the Giro is left with one top sprinter: Robbie McEwen. The Davitamon rider proved his worth again in Belgium today, winning the fourth stage in Hotton from Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) and Alberto Loddo (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni). McEwen made it look easy again as he sat on the Milram train, before bursting clear in the run up to the line. Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) retained the pink jersey going into tomorrow's rest day and Thursday's team time trial.
The 193 km stage was run in good weather conditions, with temperatures under 20 degrees and - importantly - no rain. The breakaway of the day formed after 10 km when Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step-Innergetic), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank), and Alessandro Bertolini (Selle Italia) attacked. They gained 6'55 by the 110 Gazzetta sprint point on the Francorchamps racetrack, before Gerolsteiner and Davitamon combined to haul them back with 14 km to go. Then it was a battle among the sprinters' teams on the straight run into the finish, with McEwen choosing Milram, who were leading it out for Mirco Lorenzetto. T-Mobile hit out early on the right hand side for Pollack, but nothing could stop McEwen once he reached top speed.
See also: Full stage report, results & photos;