Greipel fights off Cavendish to make it two wins in a row

Germany's Andre Greipel celebrates after taking his second successive Tour de France stage win

Story highlights

  • Germany's Andre Greipel makes it two wins in two days on the Tour de France
  • Greipel holds off Mark Cavendish in sprint finish on stage five of Tour
  • Fabian Cancellara retained yellow jersey and seven second lead over nearest challengers

Germany's Andre Greipel made it two wins in two days as he out sprinted rival Mark Cavendish to complete victory in the fifth stage of the Tour de France.

The Lotto rider held off Australian Matt Goss and Argentine Juan Jose Haedo after powering round the outside on a slightly uphill finish on the 196.5km leg between Rouen and Saint-Quentin.

Team Sky's Cavendish, who injured his right hand in a crash during Wednesday's stage, managed to avoid a similar pile-up on Thursday but could only finish fifth.

The crash 3km from home took out Peter Sagan from the Liquigas team, holder of the green jersey, and American sprinter Tyler Farrar.

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Overall leader Fabian Cancellara retained his yellow jersey after finishing the fifth leg safely to retain his seven second cushion over Britain's Bradley Wiggins and Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel.

But it was Griepel who took the headlines and after his victory he insisted he could outscore Cavendish, who won the points classification on last year's Tour.

"I'm very happy with this second win and I want to say thank you to my teammates for all their hard work," he told reporters.

"I don't know why everyone believes I can't beat him (Cavendish). I already beat him last year and I have the best team around me. Yesterday he crashed, but today he was there. I'm very happy to win my second stage in the Tour."

Cavendish took to micro-blogging site Twitter to say: "Tried to drop back a bit with 1km to go to get a run-up. Didn't work, as I left myself too much ground to gain. Congrats Andre Greipel."

The 27-year-old's Sky teammate Wiggins is rated as one of the favorites to take his first Tour title alongside last year's winner, Australian Cadel Evans. Wiggins had to quit last year's race with a broken collarbone.

But he said Team Sky were keen to avoid any more scrapes after Cavendish's crash and the broken leg that forced Kanstantsin Sivtsov to abandon on Tuesday.

"As a unit we wanted to be a bit more present," Wiggins said. "It wasn't necessarily about placing Cavendish, but also myself.

"I've been a bit caught up in all the mess the last few days and thinking of what happened last year. You just can't take any chances. Everyone realises where the safest place to ride is.

"It was just a conscious effort. We've got the legs, we've got one of the best teams here so if we could just use that a bit more and, as [Team Sky principal] Dave Brailsford said this morning 'let's just stop dithering'."

Friday's stage is a 207.5km flat leg from Epernay to Metz with Greipel sure to start as favorite to take a third win in a row.