Clare: German Andre Greipel won the opening stage of the Tour Down Under as three riders and one spectator were taken to hospital following a crash on Tuesday.

Matteo Montaguti (collarbone), Frederic Guesdon (hip) and Juergen Roelandts (neck) went to hospital for checks after they were involved in a huge pile-up in the final part of the 149-km stage between Prospect and Clare.

One spectator, a 70-year-old woman, suffered minor injuries after being hit by a rider who skidded off the road.

Lotto-Belisol rider Greipel emerged unscathed from the incident and, two days after winning the Down Under Classic, outsprinted Italian Alessandro Petacchi to snatch his second win of the season.

Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus took third place.

Wednesday's second stage will take the peloton over 148 kms from Lobethal to Stirling.

The Tour Down Under, the first World Tour (elite) race of the season, ends on Sunday.

(Agencies)