In yet another crash-marred finish, Andre Greipel led a frenzied bunch sprint to the finish to win the fifth stage at the Tour de France on Thursday, the second straight stage won by the German rider.
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland maintained the overall leader's yellow jersey for a sixth straight day after the mostly flat 122-mile trek from Rouen to Saint-Quentin was almost tailor-made for sprinters except for a slight uphill near the end.
The barreling pack overtook three breakaway riders with barely 110 yards left, and Greipel wheeled out in front a split-second ahead of Matt Goss of Australia, who was second, and Juan Jose Hadeo of Argentina, who took third. Britain's Mark Cavendish was fifth.
Like Greipel's sprint-finish victory a day before, a late crash marred the race, and he counted himself "lucky" to avoid the spill two days in a row.
"Somehow I stayed on my bike," Greipel said. "It was quite a tough finish there ... and it was also luck on our part to catch the breakaway."
The top standings didn't change: Bradley Wiggins, the leader of Cavendish's Team Sky, was second overall, seven seconds behind the Swiss leader. Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia was 17 seconds off the pace in seventh.
By holding the lead, Cancellara earned the right to wear the coveted yellow jersey for the 27th time in his career, a record for a rider who has never won the Tour.
"When you make history in this kind of way at the Tour, it's more special," said Cancellara, a time-trial specialist and the only man in yellow this year after winning Saturday's prologue.
As sprinters jockeyed for position with just under two miles left, American Tyler Farrar - riding in the middle of the pack - tumbled down. But his bike kept on going and brought down at least two other riders, including Peter Sagan of Slovakia, the winner of the first and third stages.
Farrar straggled across the line later alone, blood streaming down his right elbow and right knee. After the stage, he stormed up into the bus of the Argos-Shimano team, looking for its sprinter, Tom Veelers. Farrar angrily shouted: "You don't do that to someone!"
The start of the stage was overshadowed by a Dutch newspaper report saying five former teammates of Lance Armstrong - all involved in this year's race - agreed to testify against the seven-time Tour champion.
Daily De Telegraaf, citing "well-informed sources," reported on Thursday that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has given six-month bans to former Armstrong teammates Jonathan Vaughters, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde.