Sprinters do battle in Circuit Franco-Belge final stage

Gert Steegmans (Quick-Step) after his first of two stage wins

Gert Steegmans (Quick-Step) after his first of two stage wins (Image credit: Luc Claessen)

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."

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