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Greipel Wins his Second Stage in Sprint

The attacks on all terrain had to end somewhere. We had crosswinds and rain, but unlike on Sunday no one of great importance to the General Classification lost any time, and despite crashes, German sprinter Greipel came out on top.

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Greipel had time to celebrate, crossing the line ahead of Sagan's bike throw.
Greipel had time to celebrate, crossing the line ahead of Sagan's bike throw.
Eric Feferberg, AFP/Getty Images

More crosswinds meant more Greipel in the first stage to start in France. Tinkoff-Saxo did have a go at splitting the peloton in the early winds, with 130 kilometres to go, but it was mostly unsuccessful, with high speeds in the early part of the stage only really serving to end sole breakaway Pierre-Luc Perichon's misery slightly earlier than might have been expected, the Bretagne rider was caught just after the one hundred kilometres to go mark. The other big news of the day was the abandon of Nacer Bouhanni, falling and having to abandon the Tour de France, on a stage he may have been targeting.

After this, a period of nerves followed, as a crosswind blew, and no one attacked, despite the opportunity, and BMC, Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo controlled the front. There were crashes, with Coquard going down twice, and Morabito also falling. As was the pattern of the day, a few crashes, but mostly cagey riding from the top teams after the cobbles yesterday, and the difficult stages to come.

The peloton was still rather small after the climbers were dropped by the early split, and it was made smaller still by the biggest crash of the day. A wheel was touched on the slippery roads with 25 kilometres to go, and the entire back half of the peloton found itself on the floor including Peter Kennaugh, Filippo Pozzato, Richie Porte, Michael Albasini, Matteo Tosatto and GC contender and strop haver extraordinaire Thibaut Pinot. Albasini was the worst affected, he broke his arm and abandoned the Tour.

After all the tension and crashes, we reached the inevitable sprint. Yellow jersey Tony Martin headed the Quickstep train, before Giant took over the front. As the sprint started, Kristoff came from around the right to lead out, and Arnaud Démare tried to get around him, with Cavendish coming from down the centre having lost his lead out, but coming from the right hand side of the road, as if from nowhere was none other than Sunday's stage winner André Greipel, clad in the green of the points classification leader. He took the lead, extending his advantage on Kristoff, and beating the despairing lunge of Peter Sagan.

"Tony Gallopin, Marcel Sieberg and Lars Bak brought me up to the front. Marcel Sieberg did the work of three men, quite an amazing job.Normally with 300m to go I thought the sprint was finished, then I saw how I could get out of it and launched my sprint," he would say soon after finishing.


Some Footnotes: Greipel extended his lead in the green jersey to 32 points over Peter Sagan - can he hold it to Paris? Also, Michael Matthews took the combativity prize for hanging on despite his injuries, robbing Perichon.