Greipel grabs stage success
No changes in overall standings after dramatic finale
Last Updated: July 5, 2012 5:24pm
Andre Greipel: Beat Alessandro Petacchi in the sprint finish in Rouen
André Greipel won stage four of the Tour de France after world champion Mark Cavendish was caught up in a huge crash in the closing stages.
1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 5h 18' 32"
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) +0"
3. Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) +0"
4. Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0"
5. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) +0"
1 - Fabian Cancellara - SUI - RadioShack - 20h 04' 02''
2 - Bradley Wiggins - - Team Sky - +7''
3 - Sylvain Chavanel - FRA - Omega Pharma - Quick-Step - +7''
The German sprinter, runner-up to Cavendish in the race's first out-and-out sprint 48 hours earlier, was again given a perfect lead-out by his Lotto-Belisol team-mates at the end of the 214.5 kilometres stage from Abbeville to Rouen.
Greg Henderson was the last man to peel off and Greipel made no mistake as he held off Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) in the race to the line.
"I'm so happy - my guys supported me so well with a fantastic lead-out again," said Greipel. "They are so strong and I'm so pleased to be able to finish it off."
But the finish was partially overshadowed by a pile up with just under three kilometres remaining, with Team Sky's Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel two of the victims.
In the close-packed bunch, a touch of wheels sparked the incident as two thirds of the peloton was held up.
Cavendish was later able to get back on his bike and roll across the line, albeit with his ripped world champion's jersey clear evidence of the force of the impact.
Team Sky doctor Alan Farrell told the team's website: "Both Cav and Bernie had heavy crashes but luckily all their injuries seem relatively superficial and there are no broken bones.
"We are just taking them back to the hotel for further assessment and to look after their wounds but we are very hopeful in terms of the prognosis and outlook."
As the collision occurred inside the final 3km of the stage those caught up were credited with the same time as the winner, meaning Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) retains the race leader's yellow jersey, leading Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) by seven seconds.
Calm before the storm
The stage had earlier unfolded in much more sedate fashion, Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun) forming the day's three-man breakaway, which began in the opening kilometre.
Japan's Arashiro led the trio over the intermediate line in Fecamp with 74.5km of the stage remaining, the peloton followed six minutes later, with Cavendish leading the sprint ahead of Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) and maillot vert Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
The peloton then increased the tempo in pursuit of the escapees, with Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEDGE two of the teams to the fore.
A handful of riders broke out of the pack in an attempt to bridge the gap with 10km to go, and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) stayed clear on the final descent into Rouen.
It was a forlorn break, though, as the sprinters' teams set to work and the peloton soaked up the trio with 3km remaining.
Then just as the teams sought to get their teams in position for the finale, an innocuous stage turned sour with a large crash.
With Cavendish down, Greipel was able to avoid the melee and surge to victory, while Sagan, winner of stage one and three, added to his points haul by finishing fifth.
The latest green jersey standings see Sagan on 147 points, ahead of Goss on 92, Greipel on 87 and Cavendish on 86.
Michael Mørkøv (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) still tops the mountains classification while Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) - fourth and fifth on the GC - are the top two in the young rider standings and Team Sky head the team classification.
The sprinters should again take centre stage on Thursday as another flat stage covers 196.5km from Rouen to Saint-Quentin.