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Freire ahead of Steegmans in Belgium

Green-man Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Green-man Oscar Freire (Rabobank) (Image credit: Stijn Vercaemer)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was the fastest sprinter at Tuesday evening's 4th Na Tour Broker post-Tour criterium in Diksmuide, Belgium. The Spaniard, who claimed the Tour's green jersey this month, won the race ahead of Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), while the Tour's mountain classification winner Bernard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) placed third.

Freire and Steegmans broke away from the peloton four kilometres from the finish, and contested the sprint between themselves. Kohl tried to bridge across to the two leaders but was unable to ride across the gap. He finished just 50 meters behind the pair.

At the finish the green jersey winner from the Tour was too fast for the winner of the final stage into Paris.

"I was beaten [by a] small man," Steegmans said, who replaced Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) in the event's lineup after the Australian failed to show up at the criterium (see separate story). "Freire went through the last corner better than me, and because of that I timed my run too late."

"The sprint was difficult, but worked out perfectly for me," Freire said.

Across the border in the Netherlands Andy Schleck (CSC - Saxo Bank) took out the criterium in Stiphout. Schleck beat his team-mate and Tour winner Carlos Sastre in a sprint after the pair broke away with 10 laps remaining.

Mark Cavenndish (Columbia) was third ahead of fellow sprinter Robbie McEwen (Silence - Lotto).

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