Davide Appollonio unleashed a strong sprint to claim second place on the opening road test at the Tour de Luxembourg.
The Italian latched onto a strong lead-out from Team Sky after the squad had worked hard in the closing stages, launching his sprint in the final metres but was forced to concede the win to Andre Greipel.
The German (Lotto-Belisol) backed up three stage wins at the Tour of Belgium with another success, besting the bunch into Hesperange after kicking on the right-hand side of the road. Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) rounded out the podium places, while final lead-out man Ben Swift held on for ninth.
Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) chanced his arm with a brave solo move in the closing stages but was shut down on the final lap of the finishing circuit by a bunch not intent to let the veteran stay clear.
With no time bonuses available on the line the bunch kick allowed Frenchman Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) to remain the leader’s yellow jersey by four seconds, while Mathew Hayman maintained his overnight fourth place on the leaderboard.
Attacks began from the gun as the 181-kilometre test got under way from the centre of Luxembourg, Jesus Rosendo (Andalucia) the first to power clear before being joined by Albert Timmer (Argos-Shimano).
The rain arrived as the peloton settled into a rhythm, a slow pace meaning the race ran behind schedule. With a number of teams intent on a bunch sprint the lead duo were never afforded a huge lead and were brought back, a scenario which invited further attacks.
That provided the cue for Voigt, who kicked on out of the bunch and built up almost three minutes of a buffer, Martin Mortensen (Vacansoleil-DCM) trying but unable to bridge across to the powerful German.
Yet despite his notorious strength Voigt was unable to fend off the peloton, with both Team Sky and Lotto-Belisol active in the closing stages to slash the gap and ultimately set up a bunch sprint.
After the stage Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist talked us through the events of the day.
The Swede said: “It was a good result from Appo up there. Greipel is really in form right now but he’s always a hard guy to beat in the sprint. It was controlled and quite straightforward early on but things changed a lot in the closing stages.
“RadioShack were trying a lot and they had Jens Voigt go clear. He had everyone a bit nervous as he was really going but eventually the teams combined to bring him back down. In the end we had a bit of a fight with Lotto to bring the sprinters into position and had Swifty as last man to lead out Appo.
“Tomorrow should see a similar type of stage. Controlled in the early going and looking at the bit of a profiles it’s maybe the most straightforward day of the race. It looks good for another bunch sprint which we will have a good go at.”