SAINT-QUENTIN, France – In yet another crash-marred finish, Andre Greipel of Germany led a frenzied bunch sprint to win the fifth stage Thursday for his second straight Tour de France stage victory.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day after the mostly flat 196.5-kilometer trek from Rouen to Saint-Quentin was almost tailor-made for sprinters except for a slight uphill near the end.
The barreling pack overtook three breakaway riders with barely 100 meters left, and Greipel wheeled out in front a split-second ahead of Matt Goss of Australia, who was second, as Juan Jose Hadeo of Argentina took third. Mark Cavendish was fifth.
Like Greipel’s sprint-finish victory a day before, a late crash marred the race, and he counted himself “lucky” to avoid the spill two days in a row. “Somehow I stayed on my bike,” Greipel said. “It was quite a tough finish there ... and it was also luck on our part to catch the breakaway.”
The top standings didn’t change: Bradley Wiggins, the leader of Cavendish’s Team Sky, was second overall, seven seconds behind the Swiss leader.
Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia was 17 seconds off the pace in seventh.
By holding the lead, Cancellara earned the right to wear the coveted yellow jersey for the 27th time in his career, a record for a rider who has never won the Tour.
“When you make history in this kind of way at the Tour, it’s more special,” said Cancellara, the only man in yellow this year after winning Saturday’s prologue.— AP