André Greipel rode the Lotto-Belisol train and in Bradley Wiggins' wake to win the Tour de France stage in Le Cap d'Agde today. Wiggins, in the race leader's jersey, led the peloton into the seaside town for Edvald Boasson Hagen, but Greipel benefited for his third stage win.
"Sometimes it's easier to make that effort than to chase from the back," Wiggins said. "You need to be careful it won't split, sometimes you can win the Tour by one second or lose it by one second."
Wiggins leads the Tour de France by 2-05 minutes over team-mate Chris Froome. Greipel collected his third stage win in this Tour, his first after separating his shoulder in the stage to Metz just over a week ago.
Lotto-Belisol was thinking more of its GC leader, Jurgen Van den Broeck when the race left the start in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux. The Belgian sits fifth overall, 4-48 minutes back.
Once he and his team-mates crossed the steep Saint-Clair climb off the seaside, the focus turned to Greipel. Adam Hansen, Lars Bak, Jürgen Roelandts and even Van den Broeck looked after him.
Lotto's sports director, Herman Frison joked with Cycling Weekly afterwards that now Greipel would work for Van den Broeck in the coming Pyrenean stages. He said, "Why not? You remember how he pulled in the first road leg to Seraing?"
The wind whipped off the beach, where holidaymakers enjoyed France's national holiday, so riding at the front was the safest place. The peloton split into echelons and Sky emerged at the head with 2.3km remaining. Frison explained that he told Greipel to take advantage of its work.
"Sky came through for [Edvald] Boasson Hagen," Frison added. "We told Greipel to get on Boasson Hagen's wheel. Peter Sagan tried, but André won. It was beautiful."
Wiggins rocketed around the final right hand curve as if he was leading on the velodrome. His objective was two-fold: stay safe and lead Boasson Hagen.
"It was almost like being on the track," Wiggins said. "It felt a little bit like my [sprint] stage win in Romandie."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees
Millar's Tour win comes after 'second chance'
Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire
Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever
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