New Zealander Greg Henderson of Team Columbia-HTC claimed his first victory from a major three-week race when he dominated a bunch sprint to win stage three of the Tour of Spain into the Dutch town of Venlo on Monday.
Henderson, 32, beat Slovenia's Borut Bozic and Spain's former three-time world champion Oscar Freire to victory on the line after 189.7km of racing from Zutphen to Venlo.
Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara, of Saxo Bank, retained the race leader's gold jersey.
In the race's general classification Cancellara, who won the opening prologue stage on Saturday to claim the race lead, has a six-second lead on Henderson and eight seconds on German sprinter Gerald Ciolek, the winner of Sunday's second stage.
But on the race's third stage, the New Zealander found himself in a winning position after losing the team's main sprinter, German Andre Greipel, off his wheel on a tricky bend which also trapped a few other stage favourites.
"I was right at the front to try and lead out Greipel. That was my job, but with 600 metres to go after that final bend I looked back and he wasn't on my wheel," said Henderson. "I looked for him for a while after that then I decided just to go for it."
Henderson only learned of his participation in this year's race five days before the start in Assen.
"Not knowing wasn't great for me as regards motivation, so I'm all the more delighted with this win," added Henderson.
Also missing out on the bunch sprint because of the final bend were top sprinters like Belgium's Tom Boonen of Quick Step and American Tyler Farrar of Garmin.
On Tuesday the peloton leaves the Netherlands for Liege in Belgium where, thanks to the hillier terrain, there will be little chance of the fourth stage finishing in a bunch sprint.
Henderson is a former track cycling champion who notably won Commonwealth Games gold in the points race in 2002, and a world title in the scratch in 2004. His Columbia-HTC teammate George Hincapie won his third US Pro national road race Sunday in Greenville, South Carolina.
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© AFP & Cyclingnews.com 2009