Tour de France 2011 stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>
Sprinting's most fiery rivalry came to the fore in the final metres of the Tour's tenth stage in Carmaux today - with Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) beating Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) by half a wheel length.
The two sprinters had earlier been dropped as the peloton split into two on the final climb of the day, but they came back to the front of the race for a straight-sprint showdown and it was the German who prevailed.
A sharp bend in the course as the peloton entered Carmaux prevented Cavendish's teammates from delivering him to the line and he entered the final few hundred metres on the wheel of Liquigas rider Daniel Oss.
He was followed by Greipel and, as Oss tired, Cavendish was forced to jump round him earlier than he would have liked. He didn't have the legs to maintain his sprint to the line and Greipel sat in his wheel for a few vital seconds, allowing him to make a late surge for the line.
The third spot on the podium was filled by José Rojas (Movistar), with Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) fourth. Sky's highest representative was Geraint Thomas, who finished ninth.
As the peloton approached Carmaux, however, it looked like Cavendish and co might be denied a bunch sprint. An attack by Tony Gallopin (Cofidis) with fifteen kilomtres to go was joined by yellow jersey-holder Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and several others. It was a sign of how much of a threat the move was that Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) bridged to it early on in order to mark it on behalf of his team.
The group pulled close to twenty seconds out on the peloton but were ultimately unable to hold their advantage and were swallowed with six kilometers to go.
Gilbert did make a solo effort as the others in the break sat up, but it would have needed something superhuman to stay clear of the speeding bunch, and he was caught with 4.4km to go.
Gilbert's late effort meant he collected no Green Jersey points, but he remains at the top of the standings, however. Rojas remains second, seventeen points behind and Cavendish now sits in third, a further twelve points further back.
Last climb split
With two third category and two fourth category climbs the presence of Cavendish and other sprinters at the front of the race come the finish was not guaranteed.
As it happened, the pace was not fast enough to shed any riders until the final one and, as Omega Pharma-Lotto piled to the front in an effort to set up Philippe Gilbert for a sprinter-free finish, the peloton split into two.
They never established enough of a gap between the two groups for them to stay separate. They rejoined as the race descended into Charmaux, but it was Omega Pharma-Lotto's burst of pace and the subsequent split, however, which was used as a springboard for the opportunistic move of Gallopin, Voeckler and Gilbert.
Earlier in the day, six riders had broken free and stayed away until the final climb. They included Arthur Vichot (FdJ), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), Sebastien Minard (AG2R), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil), Remy di Gregorio (Astana) and Julien el Fares (Cofidis).
In comparison to earlier stages today's was relatively crash-free. There were a few incidents early on in the stage. One crash involved the calamitous Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack), Fabien Cancellara (Leopard-Trek), Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) and Bjorn Leukemens (Vacansoleil), but all weren't too badly hurt and rejoined the peloton for the remainder of the race.
Thomas Voeckler finished in the bunch and keeps his yellow jersey.
Re-read the live text coverage for Tour de France stage ten>>
Tour de France 2011, stage 10. Autrillac - Carmaux 158km
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma Lotto 3-31-21
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
3. Jose Rojas (Esp) Movistar
4. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo
5. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Daniel Oss (Ita) LIiquigas
7. Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Borut bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis all at same time
77. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo at same time
Overall classification after stage 10
1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar 42-06-32
2. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank at 1-49
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 2-26
4. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-29
5. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-37
6. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad at 2-38
7. Peter Velits (Slo) HTC-Highroad at 2-28
8. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Radioshack at 2-43
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 2-55
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard-Trek at 3-08
Philippe Gilbert leads an escape group that also contained race leader Thomas Voeckler
Juan Antonio Flecha complete with bandages as a result of being hit by a car on stage nine
Andre Greipel celebrates his first Tour de France stage win
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Tour de France 2011: Latest news
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Cavendish's race for the Tour green jersey
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Tour de France 2011: Teams, riders, start list
Tour de France 2011: Official start list
Tour de France 2011: Who's riding?
Tour de France 2011: Team guide
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Stage 10: Greipel beats Cavendish in Tour stage 10 sprint
Stage nine: Sanchez conquers day of crashes and climbs
Stage eight: Costa wins first mountain stage of 2011 Tour
Stage seven: Cavendish wins but Wiggins crashes out of Tour
Stage six: Boasson Hagen takes Sky's first Tour de France win
Stage five: Cavendish wins in Cap Frehel
Stage four: Evans edges out Contador on the Mur-de-Bretagne
Stage three: Farrar sprints to first Tour victory in Redon
Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow
Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start
Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Video: Erik Zabel's role as Cavendish's sprint advisor
Stage five video highlights
Video: The ride of Philippe Gilbert at the Tour de France
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011 wallpaper gallery
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011 team time trial training photo gallery by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team press conferences by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011 LIVE: CW's text coverage schedule
Stage seven live text coverage
Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
Video: 2003 Centenary Tour
Video: Lance Armstrong retrospective
Video: Behind the scenes at the Tour
Video: Guerini's 1999 stage win
Video: Thrills and spills at the Tour
Video: Armstrong in 1999
Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre
Tour de France 2011: Archive articles1999 Tour de France stage two: Passage du Gois causes chaos
Tour de France 2011: TV schedule
British Eurosport Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
ITV4 Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France: The jerseys, what they are and what they mean
Potted history of the Tour de France
The closest Tours in history
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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