Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won stage four of the 2012 Tour de France in Rouen on Wednesday after a crash decimated the peloton in the final kilometres.
Greipel and his Lotto-Belisol lead-out train avoided the crash and the German sprinter enjoyed a perfect lead-out to take his first win in the 2012 Tour.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) placed second, with Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) in third.
Mark Cavendish (Sky) was one of those caught in the finale crash, injuring his left side. He quickly remounted and rolled into the finish. Sky team-mate Bernhard Eisel was also caught, and came away with a cut above his eye.
There was no change to the overall classification, with Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) maintaining his seven-second lead over Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in second and Chavanel in third.
The day’s racing was largely dictated by a three man escape group. Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) attacked after the riders left the neutralised zone in Abbeville, and was followed by Frenchmen David Mouncoutie (Cofidis) and Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun).
The trio built up a lead of over eight minutes at one point, before settling in to a six-seven minute advantage for the majority of the day.
After the inevitable catch, an attack by Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) gained some ground in the final 6km but they too were reeled in by the bunch as the pace was wound up.
Lotto-Belisol took control and Greipel finished it off to perfection.
Sagan’s fifth place means that he extends his lead in the points classification, particularly as Cavendish was unable to contest the finale. Cavendish slips to fourth in the contest for the green jersey.
There were three non-starters for the day’s stage as a result of Tuesday’s crashes: Kanstantin Siutsou (Sky), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank).
It’s more of the same tomorrow for the riders, another flat stage starting in Rouen and finishing in Saint-Quentin some 196.5km later. Stage five full preview>>
Tour de France 2012, stage four: Abbeville to Rouen, 214.5km
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol in 5-18-32
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
3. Tom Veelers (Ned) Argos-Shimano
4. Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
6. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
7. Daryl Impey (RSA) Origca-GreenEdge
8. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
10. Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi all same time
Overall classification after stage four
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 7 sec
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma QuickStep at same time
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 10 sec
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky at 11 sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha at 13 sec
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 17 sec
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 18 sec
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at same time
10. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan at 19 sec
The peloton head to the coast
David Moncoutie heads the escape group
Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte
Mark Cavendish after his crash
Andre Greipel wins stage four
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Sky down to eight after Siutsou crash
Kittel recovering from illness
Explaining the three kilometre rule
Sky’s embarrassment of riches
Rogers back on form and backing Wiggins in the Tour
Martin to continue in Tour despite fractured wrist
Liquigas coach tips Sagan for future Grand Tour win
Cancellara’s win lifts morale in RadioShack team
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials
CW’s Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever