ROUEN, France — Britain's Mark Cavendish felt painful scrapes from the hard Tour de France asphalt in Wednesday's fourth stage. He bared no hard feelings toward rival Andre Greipel, who won it.
The German speedster, leading a thinned-out group of sprinters at the finish, got his 14th victory in all competitions this year while Cavendish nursed wounds from a late crash as the race entered Normandy.
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara got briefly held up by the trouble but didn't go down, and retained the overall lead for a fifth day after the 133-mile trek alongside the English Channel from Abbeville to Rouen.
The top standings didn't change: Bradley Wiggins, the leader of Cavendish's Team Sky hoping to be Britain's first Tour winner, is second, seven seconds behind. Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia is 17 seconds off the pace in seventh.
With less than 2 miles left, a group spill brought down Cavendish, who rode gingerly to finish the stage. The squad said he was banged up but was likely to start today.
With Cavendish out of the picture, Greipel burst out of the depleted group of sprinters and sped to the straightaway finish, a split-second ahead of Italy's Alessandro Petacchi and Dutch rider Tom Veelers.
"There were still really fast guys there for the sprint and I think we just deserve this victory," he said. "I think it's no question about that. I won a stage in the Tour de France!"