Andre Greipel wins 10th stage of Tour de France
By JEROME PUGMIRE
AP Sports Writer
CARMAUX, France -- German sprinter Andre Greipel won the 10th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, beating former teammate Mark Cavendish by a wheel's length in a dash to the line and capturing a leg of cycling's showcase race for the first time.
France's Thomas Voeckler kept the yellow jersey after nestling safely in the main pack for most of the 98-mile route from Aurillac to Carmaux.
Wednesday's 11th stage is another flat route for sprinters before riders reach the grueling climbs of the Pyrenees.
Defending champion Alberto Contador and his main rivals -- Luxembourg's Andy Schleck and Australia's Cadel Evans -- all finished without losing any time to one another. Contador was riding with a sore right knee.
Schleck, runner-up to Contador in the last two Tours, remains 1:30 ahead of the Spaniard in the overall standings, and 11 seconds behind Evans, a two-time Tour runner-up.
Voeckler, who also wore the yellow jersey in 2004, was near the front of the pack as the sprint began and was happy to get to the line without incident. The first nine stages of the race were marred by crashes and injuries.
"The yellow jersey comes with a lot of tension, a lot of stress," Voeckler said. "But in terms of the fans it's a fabulous thing."
Cavendish seemed to have sealed his third stage victory of this year's Tour, and 18th of his career, when he turned into the final straightaway. But Greipel stormed past him in the last 20 yards with a late burst and punched the air in delight as he crossed the line. On the podium, he looked tearful as he celebrated.
"It's the moment I've been waiting for all year," said Greipel, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team. "It's the most beautiful race in the world and the most famous. To win here is sensational."
Jose Joaquin Rojas of Spain was third. The main pack all finished in 3 hours, 31 minutes, 21 seconds.
Cavendish and Greipel feuded last year when they were both on the HTC-Highroad team. Greipel was beaten to the line by Cavendish in the seventh stage last Friday after being the one to attack too soon.
"He's the best sprinter on the Tour de France, and to be able to beat him is a big moment for me," Greipel said. "The nine first days of the Tour were hard for us. We told ourselves that we had a rest day and we had to keep fighting."
An early breakaway of six riders was cut down to three when Frenchmen Arthur Vichot and Sebastien Minard were joined by Italian Marco Marcato at the base of the 2.5-mile ride up Cote de Villefranche-de-Rouergue.
The pack caught Vichot and Minard with about 11 miles remaining, leaving only Marcato in front. But Marcato's lead didn't last much longer. A new group of five, featuring the yellow jersey of Voeckler and green shirt of Philippe Gilbert, surged ahead in the last six miles.
Gilbert, the winner of the opening stage, then accelerated ahead in a bid for a spectacular victory. But the Belgian had far too much road left, and the pack soon swallowed him up.
Norway's Thor Hushovd, who lost the yellow jersey to Voeckler in Sunday's ninth stage, was briefly delayed near the end when he had to pull over to put his left shoe back on.