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Roche and Martin avoid big crash as Greipel takes Tour stage

Posted 04 July 2012

Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin were lucky not to come down in a high speed crash which took out world champion Mark Cavendish in the build up to a thrilling sprint finish on stage four of the Tour de France.

The crash, in which race favourite Bradley Wiggins (Sky) also became entangled, took place inside the final three kilometre safety zone meaning that all those affected by it were given the same time as stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
The scrappy build up to the finish started from 7.5 kilometres out as the sprint teams put an end to a 207 kilometre long break by Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun).
That move was initiated by Arashiro at the drop of the flag and with the peloton showing no appetite for hard racing they succeeded in opening a lead of 8’40” after just 16 kilometres.
The gap spurred Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol team into action and with some assistance from Orica-GreenEdge and the Radioshack-Nissan team of race leader Fabian Cancellara it was pared back to a more manageable six minutes.
The gap held steady through the intermediate sprint in Fecamp after 140 kilometres where Cavendish (Sky) flexed his muscles by taking fourth place out of the chasing peloton ahead of Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank).
Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma Quickstep) made another valiant bid to claw back his seven seconds deficit on Cancellara as the race hit the final ten kilometres with that attack doing little to help the three leaders whose advantage had dwindled to seconds.
Chavanel had another go as soon as the race regrouped with the support of Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) and Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil) forcing Cancellara to take control of the effort to close them down.
The big effort from the Swiss strung out the peloton with the sprint teams panicing to reform the lead out trains as the race entered the final three kilometres.
The sharp maneouvering resulted in massive crash some 400 metres later with Cavendish coming off the worst for wear. 
Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol team were quick to regain control of the sprint and the German powered to the line off the wheel of teammate Greg Henderson to register his first win of this year’s race.
Roche  (AG2R La Mondiale) was placed 55th on the stage and drops one place to 21st in the GC where he remains 25 seconds behind Cancellara who retains his race lead. 
Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was placed 72nd and lies 87th in the GC with an overall deficit of 5’28’.
Tour de France
Stage 4: Abbeville – Rouen, 214.5 kilometres 
1.  André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 5:18:32
2.  Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
3.  Tom Veelers (Ned) Argos-Shimano
4.  Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
5.  Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
6.  Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
7.  Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
8.  Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9.  Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
10. Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
55. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale – same time
87 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp – same time
General classification after stage 4:
1.  Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 20:04:02
2.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4.  Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
5.  Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:11
6.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:13
7.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
8.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:18
9.  Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
10.  Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:19
21. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 25 seconds
87. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 5 minutes, 28 seconds

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