German rider Andre Greipel prevailed in a sprint finish to claim the fourth stage of the Tour De France here Wednesday with Fabian Cancellera holding onto the leader's yellow jersey.
The closing stages were marked by a multi-bike pile-up less than three kilometres from the line with British sprint king Mark Cavendish among the casualties. With the main peloton held up by the crash, Lotto rider Greipel took the honours after the 214km ride from Abbeville to the historic Normandy cathedral city of Rouen.
Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi came in second from Dutch rival Tom Veelers.
This was the 29-year-old Greipel's second stage win in the race after he opened his Tour de France account last year in Carmaux, and his 14th overall of the year. As expected a day after the rigours of the first crash-hit stage on Tuesday left skin on the road and led to three abandons, the early breakaway which formed almost immediately was allowed to race on unhindered.
Japanese Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and French pair David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Anthon Delaplace (Suar-Sojasun) were no threat to the bunch and soon built a maximum lead of nearly nine minutes.
With a pancake flat finish, however, they were at the mercy of the sprinters' teams.
They began to put riders at the front of the bunch to prepare the chase, which began in earnest 30 km after Cavendish had beaten his sprint rivals for the green jersey points at the intermediate sprint at 140 km.