Germany's Andre Greipel wins Tour de France stage

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ROUEN, France — Britain’s Mark Cavendish felt painful scrapes from the hard Tour de France asphalt in Wednesday’s fourth stage. He bared no hard feelings toward rival Andre Greipel, who won it.

Andre Greipel wins the fourth stage of the Tour de France as one of his Lotto-Belisol teammates (back) raises his hands.  as teammate of Germany crosses the finish line ahead of Alessandro Petacchi of Italy, left, to win the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 214.5 kilometers (133.3 miles) with start in Abbeville and finish in Rouen, France, Wednesday July 4, 2012. (AP Photo/  LAURENT REBOURS/ ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAURENT REBOURS/ ASSOCIATED PRESS
Andre Greipel wins the fourth stage of the Tour de France as one of his Lotto-Belisol teammates (back) raises his hands. as teammate of Germany crosses the finish line ahead of Alessandro Petacchi of Italy, left, to win the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 214.5 kilometers (133.3 miles) with start in Abbeville and finish in Rouen, France, Wednesday July 4, 2012. (AP Photo/

The German speedster, leading a thinned-out group of sprinters at the finish, got his 14th victory in all competitions this year while Cavendish nursed wounds from a late crash as the race entered Normandy.

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara got briefly held up by the trouble but didn’t go down, and retained the overall lead for a fifth day after the 133-mile trek alongside the English Channel from Abbeville to Rouen.

The top standings didn’t change: Bradley Wiggins, the leader of Cavendish’s Team Sky hoping to be Britain’s first Tour winner, is second, 7 seconds behind the Swiss leader.

Defending champion Cadel Evans, of Australia, is 17 seconds off the pace in seventh.

With less than 2 miles left, a group spill brought down Cavendish, scraping up his rainbow-colored jersey of world champion. He looked a bit dazed as Sky staff checked him out and helped him get on a bike. He rode gingerly to finish the stage. The squad said he was banged up, but appeared to have no serious injuries and was likely to start today.

“Ouch.....,” Cavendish wrote on Twitter. “Crash at 2.5km to finish today. Taken some scuffs to my left side, but I’ve bounced pretty well again. Congrats to (at)AndreGreipel.”

With Cavendish out of the picture, Greipel burst out of the depleted group of sprinters, and sped to the straightaway finish, a split-second ahead of Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi and Dutch rider Tom Veelers.

The German said he didn’t pay much attention to the late crash.

“I heard something behind me ... but at 60 kilometers per hour, you don’t worry about what happened behind,” the Lotto-Belisol rider told France-2 TV.

While pro cyclists all run the risk of crashing, Cavendish’s spill amounted to a scare – if faint – to his high hopes of winning gold for Britain in the Olympic road race in August.

AT A GLANCE

STAGE: A 133-mile flat ride along the English Channel from Abbeville to Rouen.

WINNER: Andre Greipel, of Germany

YELLOW JERSEY: Fabian Cancellara, of Switzerland

STAT OF THE DAY: Two – the number of Tour stages won by Greipel. The German sprinter had already claimed one last year during his Tour debut.

TODAY’S STAGE: A 122-mile flat trek from Rouen to Saint-Quentin. Sprinters are expected to battle for the stage win.

– Associated Press


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