Tom Boonen came out on top in a sprint finish to the third stage of the Tour of Benelux between Beveren and Ardooie in the former world champion’s native Belgium on Wednesday.

The Etixx rider was followed home at the end of the 171.9 kilometre ride by France’s Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Team Sky’s Italian rider Elia Viviani.

Jesper Asselman of the Netherlands retained the overall leader’s white jersey with a mere one second advantage over Boonen, placed 10sec adrift at the start of the day.

The stage had promised to be another demonstration of force from Andre Greipel, who had won Tuesday’s second stage.

But the German sprinter was trapped on the narrow roads of Ardooie and was too far back to play any part in the dash for the line.

Demare had launched the sprint from a good way out but it was Boonen, world road race champion in 2005, who took him on and proved the stronger in front of his home fans.

Thursday’s fourth stage, a 13.9km time-trial around the Dutch town of Hoogerheide, is set to shake up the overall standings. – Agence France-Presse

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