Greipel wins Tour de France stage in Rouen

Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) opened his account at the 2012 Tour de France with a sprint victory in Rouen. The German came off the wheel of lead-out man Greg Henderson and powered to the stage win ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano).

However, the build-up to the sprint was marred by a crash with 2.5km remaining as several sprinters hit the tarmac, including world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky). Bernhard Eisel, Cavendish's teammate and Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Sharp) also hit the deck, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) lucky to escape the carnage.

But Lotto made their own luck, controlling the peloton through the final few kilometres and delivering Greipel to a winning position. It drew memories of HTC's former dominance, not just in the fact that five of Lotto's current cast came through the Highroad ranks but also in their efficient nature. While they assumed the mantle of responsibility the other sprinters, including Cavendish, were left fighting for their positions.

"I'm so happy today. I am so happy to have those guys on my side, such strong riders to lead me out. This is what we wanted to reach today, winning a stage," Greipel said at the finish.

Greipel, it must be noted, was the only top level sprinter to pass on competing in the intermediate sprint but Peter Sagan consolidated his lead in the battle for green with a sixth place in Fécamp. He also navigated through the crash to finish 5th on the stage, just one place behind Matthew Goss, who was never able to come on terms with his ex-teammate. Sagan now leads the race for green with 147 points with Goss next on 92.

The top of general classification remains unchanged as Fabian Cancellara continues in the yellow jersey with a seven-second lead over Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

Battered riders welcome calm start

After yesterday's chaos came the calm, with a 214 kilometre stage from Abbeville to Rouen. With no wind and only four fourth categorised climbs the peloton was in no mood to see a repeat of yesterday's events. So there was little surprise when a three-man break, comprised of Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne), was allowed to escape.

With no GC threat in the break's ranks the trio was allowed to build its lead to over 8 minutes while the bunch meandered along the French coastline. RadioShack-Nissan, with Cancellara in yellow, was obliged to keep the gap in check and dutifully set tempo on the front.

At the back of the bunch Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) nursed their broken bones, riding in single file with the sole ambitions of finishing. The gradual pace was a godsend.

At the intermediate sprint in Fécamp, Arashiro took the maximum points but the race behind briefly came to life when the peloton approached. Cavendish showed a clean pair of heels to Goss and Renshaw, with Sagan sweeping up a consolatory 9 points. Greipel's absence from the action was an ominous sign, though, and in his post-stage press conference he confirmed that the battle for green was of no interest.

With RadioShack-Nissan having performed the majority of the chase work it was the sprinters' teams who finished off the break's last ray of hope with 8.5 kilometres to go. FDJ-Big Mat, Katusha, Orica GreenEdge and Lotto Belisol showed their intentions while Sky and Rabobank briefly sat back.

An immediate counter-attack containing Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), only seven seconds off the race lead of Fabian Cancellara, plus Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) gained a small advantage, but this trio, too, was neutralised with 3.5 kilometers to go.

And then the crash: Cavendish, Eisel and Hunter were among those involved, the Austrian left with a gash on his forehead, while the world champion was left sitting on the French tarmac, his stage hopes and green jersey aspirations almost over.

Sagan and Cancellara avoided the bodies and bikes but the peloton was shattered to pieces. Argos-Shimano, Lotto Belisol and Orica GreenEdge had virtually intact lead-outs but Lotto, with Henderson, Hansen, Roelandts and Sieberg, had the survivors in check.

"We had Lars [Bak] up at the front working," Hansen said at the finish. "Towards the end there was a bit of a climb and Lars held his position well. Then we had Jelle doing the climb. Then from the top of the climb, it was my job to keep them in front, using the guys from the other teams and sitting on them, always keeping a good position and then I let go about two and a half and there were two guys behind me from different teams and that was good. And behind them there was Sieberg, Roelandts, then Greg did his work and André finished it off. It was perfect."

Goss and Petacchi, the latter racing without a final lead-out man, were left to fight it out for Greipel's rear wheel but this was textbook Greipel. Often he can go missing in the messy sprints but if delivered to the final 200 meters he is Cavendish's closest rival. Petacchi made a late surge on the German's right but it wasn't enough, the Italian no longer the sprinter he once was.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team5:18:32
2Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 1 - Cell 2
3Tom Veelers (Ned) Argos-ShimanoRow 2 - Cell 2
4Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 4 - Cell 2
6Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 5 - Cell 2
7Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 8 - Cell 2
10Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 9 - Cell 2
11Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 13 - Cell 2
15Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 14 - Cell 2
16Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-ShimanoRow 16 - Cell 2
18Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 17 - Cell 2
19Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 19 - Cell 2
21Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-NissanRow 20 - Cell 2
22Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 21 - Cell 2
23Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISDRow 23 - Cell 2
25Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 24 - Cell 2
26Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 25 - Cell 2
27Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 27 - Cell 2
29Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Roy Curvers (Ned) Argos-ShimanoRow 29 - Cell 2
31Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos-ShimanoRow 30 - Cell 2
32Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 31 - Cell 2
33Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 32 - Cell 2
34Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 33 - Cell 2
35Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 35 - Cell 2
37Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 36 - Cell 2
38Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Argos-ShimanoRow 37 - Cell 2
39Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 38 - Cell 2
40Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 41 - Cell 2
43Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 42 - Cell 2
44Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - SharpRow 44 - Cell 2
46Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 45 - Cell 2
47Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 46 - Cell 2
48Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 50 - Cell 2
52Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro TeamRow 51 - Cell 2
53Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana Pro TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 53 - Cell 2
55Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 54 - Cell 2
56Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 55 - Cell 2
57Nick Nuyens (Bel) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 56 - Cell 2
58Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-NissanRow 59 - Cell 2
61Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 61 - Cell 2
63Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 62 - Cell 2
64Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-NissanRow 63 - Cell 2
65Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar TeamRow 64 - Cell 2
66Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 65 - Cell 2
67Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 66 - Cell 2
68Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
69Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 68 - Cell 2
70Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 70 - Cell 2
72Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - SharpRow 71 - Cell 2
73Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 72 - Cell 2
74Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 74 - Cell 2
76George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 75 - Cell 2
77Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 76 - Cell 2
78Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 77 - Cell 2
79Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) Lampre - ISDRow 78 - Cell 2
80Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 80 - Cell 2
82Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 81 - Cell 2
83Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 82 - Cell 2
84Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 83 - Cell 2
85Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 84 - Cell 2
86Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 85 - Cell 2
87Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 86 - Cell 2
88Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 87 - Cell 2
89Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-NissanRow 88 - Cell 2
90Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 89 - Cell 2
91Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 90 - Cell 2
92Christian Knees (Ger) Sky ProcyclingRow 91 - Cell 2