Andre Greipel pounced late for the second successive day to claim the fifth stage of the Tour de France in a stage rocked by the doping controversy swirling around seven-time winner Lance Armstrong.
Lotto rider Greipel finished fastest to claim the sprint finish in a carbon copy of his win on Wednesday at the end of the 196.5 kilometre run from Rouen to Saint-Quentin.
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellera held onto the leader's yellow jersey by seven seconds from Briton Bradley Wiggins with Australia's defending champion Cadel Evans in seventh, at 17sec.
Before the peloton set off from Rouen an explosive report appeared in a Dutch newspaper claiming four former teammates of Armstrong had testified against the Texan and were facing six-month bans.
De Telegraaf alleged the quartet competing in this year's race - Americans George Hincapie (BMC), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma), Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie (both Garmin) - have confessed to doping.
Hincapie, a teammate of Australian Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, refused to directly comment on the allegation ahead of Thursday's stage.
"I'm just disappointed this is being brought up once again," said Hincapie, the only rider to accompany Armstrong in all seven of his triumphant Tour campaigns.
On the road and for the second time in 24 hours there was a multi-bike pile-up less than three kilometres from the finish in which one of the victims was Slovakian champion Peter Sagan, winner of the first and third stages.
Immunity report confirms "vendetta"
Rouen, France: Lance Armstrong accused U.S Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart on Thursday of waging a "vendetta" against him following reports five former teammates have received reduced suspensions after admitting to doping in return for testifying against the seven-time Tour de France champion.
"So let me get this straight ... come in and tell them exactly what they wanted to hear and you get complete immunity AND anonymity? I never got that offer," Armstrong wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
"This isn't about Tygart wanting to clean up cycling - rather it's just a plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta."