Vuelta 5: Andrei Greipel takes the lead

German wins stage into Vinaros

Germany's Andre Greipel of Team Columbia took the golden jersey as overall leader of the Tour of Spain after recording his second consecutive stage win on Thursday.

Greipel beat Belgium's Tom Boonen and Italy's Daniele Bennati in a sprint at the end of the 174-kilometre race from Tarragona to Vinaros in northeastern Spain.

He takes overall leadership of the Tour from Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara, who had led since the since the time trial on the first day.

On Tuesday, Greipel headed a four-man sprint to win the treacherous 225km fourth stage between Venlo in the Netherlands to Liege in Belgium.

"It was one of the victories that I will never forget. The team did exceptional work even if one of them had a problem with a wheel," said Greipel, who turned professional in 2005.

It was his 17th victory of the season but the first time he has led a major Tour.

Thursday's fifth stage was the first this year to be held in Spain after opening in the Netherlands. It was also the first to include hill climbs. It was marked by an attack in the first kilometre by Spain's Julien Sanchez Pimienta.

He was soon joined by five other riders, and the six then built up a lead of several minutes. They were caught by the peloton with less than 20 kilometres to go.

Frenchman Philippe Gilbert also launched a late breakaway on the final hill climb of La Ermita, but was reeled in a few minutes later.

Friday's 176-kilometre sixth stage starts and finishes in the eastern town of Xativa and includes two third-category hill climbs.

© AFP 2009

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