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Van Petegem sprints to win in Belgium

NINOVE, Belgium, April 6 (Reuters) - Belgian Peter Van Petegem outsprinted compatriot Frank Vandenbroucke on Sunday to clinch the 254-km Tour of Flanders, the second round of cycling's World Cup.

An attack by the 33-year-old Van Petegem from the leading break on the traditionally decisive Mur de Grammont was countered by Vandenbroucke, who then tried but failed to get away on the last climb.

The two had a 30 second advantage over nine chasers with five km left to race and in the final sprint Van Petegem repeated his 1999 victory over Vandenbroucke by a comfortable two-second margin in a time of six hours 18 minutes 48 seconds.

"I was never worried in the final sprint because I knew I was faster than Vandenbroucke," said Van Petegem, who is now joint leader of the World Cup series and favourite for Paris-Roubaix, the third round next weekend.

Third, 19 seconds behind the winner, was Australian champion Stuart O'Grady with Italian Fabio Baldato fourth and Belgian Nico Mattan, fifth.

After an uneventful first five hours racing, Johan Museeuw opened up the late moves. However, the Belgian was unable to respond to a powerful surge by Van Petegem in an 11-man break.

Van Petegem then repeated his attacks on the Grammont and only Vandenbroucke was able to follow.

In a lengthy last duel in the streets of Ninove, Van Petegem once again asserted himself.

But a second place in Flanders confirmed Vandenbroucke's return to high-level racing after completing a six-month ban on March 1 over doping products found at his house last year.

Van Petegem goes joint top of the standings on 100 points with titleholder Paolo Bettini. The Italian won the first round two weekends ago but dropped out 20 km from the finish on Sunday.

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