Sprinters Gert Steegmans (Quick.Step - Innergetic) and Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile Team) did battle again on Sunday at the end of the 162.1km stage 4 from Cuesmes to Tournai in the Circuit Franco-Belge race. This time, Steegmans came out on top, but both defeated Robbie McEwen (Predictor - Lotto) who ended up third at the end of the slightly uphill finishing stretch on cobblestones.
Steegmans (Quick.Step - Innergetic) proved himself the top star of the stage race with his win. In fact, it was his second win; he also won stage 2 from Maubeuge to Templeuve in France. Cavendish initially evened their tally when he won stage 3 from Bray-Dunes, France to Poperinge, Belgium, but the British rider fell slightly short in the final stage.
27 year-old Steegmans also claimed the overall individual and points classifications.
The ambitions of the sprinters were almost thwarted by some late race attacks. Among them was a bold move by Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) who attacked with five kilometers to go and was caught with just 400 meters to go. Cancellara escaped with Stephen De Jongh (Quick.Step - Innergetic).
"But De Jongh was unwilling to take any leads, because his team had been trying to get Gert Steegmans in position all day. So that was understandable especially since Steegmans ended up winning the stage as well as the overall victory," said Team CSC Sports Director Scott Sunderland after the race according to team-csc.com.
"This morning we'd thought about letting a breakaway go to then control the race with me arriving at the sprint with the idea of looking for a victory over Cavendish who had my same time," said a victorious Steegmans after the race.
"This is a final part of the season for me and I really owe a lot to my team-mates who were at my complete disposal," finished Steegmans. "My next objective now is next Sunday's Paris Tours. Winning that race would just finish off my season perfectly."