Tour de France: German Andre Greipel pips Mark Cavendish to 10th stage win

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The Independent Online

Mark Cavendish today suffered a surprise Tour de France defeat as his arch-rival Andre Greipel triumphed in Carmaux.

The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man, who won stages five and seven last week, was in a strong position in the finale of the 158-kilometre 10th stage from Aurillac to Carmaux, but Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) pipped the Briton on the line.

The duo were team-mates and outspoken rivals last season, with Greipel denied his chance to ride in the Grand Tours by Cavendish's presence in the HTC-Highroad squad.

Following yesterday's rest day in the Massif Central, the Tour resumed today but minus some big names following a fraught stage on Sunday which accounted for the hopes of Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Jurgen van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), among others.

Yarosolav Popovych (RadioShack), meanwhile, withdrew this morning after reporting a fever, while Katusha's Alexandr Kolobnev has also quit the race after his positive test for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, a 'specified substance' prohibited in professional cycling.

However, Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) were remarkably able to start two days after being knocked down by a car on stage nine to Saint Flour.

The day began with a shower of hailstones at the start in Aurillac and 178 riders took to their bikes, meaning 20 have retired since the July 2 start in the Vendee.

There was a minor crash in the peloton after 11km before six riders - Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil), Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Sebastien Minard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), Julien El Fares (Cofidis) and Remy Di Gregorio (Astana) - formed the day's breakaway after 16km.

The escapees swept up the first six places at the intermediate sprint, before Cavendish led the peloton over the line to take nine points for seventh place and narrow his deficit in the race for the green jersey.

Maillot vert incumbent Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was 11th and scored five points, though.

The escapees were caught at the foot of the day's final climb, the category four Cote de Mirandol-Bourgnounac.

Gilbert forced the pace, seeking to avoid a mass finish.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, went with the Belgian, along with three other riders - Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Dries Devenyns (QuickStep) and HTC-Highroad's Tony Martin.

Voeckler led the group over the summit, 15km from the finish, but the peloton were within striking distance.

Gilbert broke clear after 8km but the undulating terrain allowed the peloton to catch him inside the final 5km.

Counter attacks began - including from Britain's David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) - but HTC-Highroad kept the chasing pack in the hunt.

However, the technical finale threw the stage wide open and Cavendish, despite leading into the short home straight was beaten to the line by Greipel, with Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) third.

It was the first time Cavendish has been beaten by Greipel in a head-to-head sprint.

Cavendish is likely to have a further opportunity in tomorrow's 167.5km 11th stage from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur.