METZ, France — Peter Sagan of Slovakia avoided a bloody, across-the-road pileup to capture a stage for the third time at the Tour de France on Friday, and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland also steered clear of the mayhem to keep the yellow jersey.
The 129-mile ride from Epernay to Metz began in the Champagne region. As the pack picked up speed to chase four breakaway riders with about 16 miles to go, at least two dozen riders spilled across a rural road. Many were downed and dazed, looking for team staffers in a jumble of injured riders and bikes.
Rabobank's Laurens Ten Dam said on Twitter: "It was like a trench hit by a (grenade). … Lots of blood and screaming. Carnage."
The U.S. Garmin-Sharp team bore the brunt of the crash.
Tom Danielson, who finished last year's Tour in eighth place, was briefly knocked unconscious and later rushed to a hospital for hip, collarbone and elbow injuries. He was one of at least four riders to drop out of the race because of the crash.
Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal of Canada, winner of the Giro d'Italia in May, injured a knee and lost more than 13 minutes, all but ending his chances for a top-three finish. He had started the stage in ninth place, 18 seconds back. Two other contenders, Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans, were unscathed.
A Tour medical report listed 27 riders as injured on the day in two crashes total, two hospitalized from the first and eight from the bloody second. The casualty count continued into the evening. Maarten Wynants pulled out with two broken ribs and a punctured lung, a Rabobank team spokesman said. Three-time world champion Oscar Freire had a broken rib, becoming at least the sixth rider to drop out, the Katusha team said.
Overall, Cancellara led Wiggins by seven seconds.