Eurosport - Wed, 07 Jul 17:20:00 2010
Alessandro Petacchi won the fourth stage of the Tour de France in a bunch sprint finish in Reims.
After two crash-filled stages there was a significant lack of action on the tour's second shortest road stage, with Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland retaining his 23-seconds lead over Briton Geraint Thomas as virtually all of the bunch crossedthe line together.
It was a classic lead out from Mark Renshaw for Columbia-HTC team-mate Mark Cavendish but the Isle of Man sprinter failed to produce a turn of speed over the final few metres as 36-year-old Petacchi, who won Sunday's opening road stage in Brussels, roared home by a bike's length.
New Zealand's Dean, only contesting the sprint as team-mate Tyler Farrar has a small fracture in his left wrist, took second place ahead of more established sprinters with Team Sky's Norwegian starlet Boasson Hagen and Robbie McEwen, who won the stage in Reims in 2002, following him over the line.
"To win two stages on the Tour de France means a lot, especially at this time in my career," said Petacchi.
"I had nothing to lose so I launched the sprint from far. I stayed close to Cavendish, I marked (Robbie) McEwen and that was it.
"My experience of more than 200 sprints made the difference."
Meanwhile, Cavendish admitted he was not happy with his performance saying: "I'm disappointed about today. I felt really good during the stage. I feel sorry for my teammates who rode unbelievably and I just didn't finish it off at the end.
"We're really motivated as a team and I'm going to go out there tomorrow and give it hundred per cent again."
Early in the stage, Dimitri Champion (AG2R-La Mondiale) launched an attack after just 1.5km in sunny conditions in northern France.
He was joined by French compatriot Nicolas Vogondy (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Belgian Francis De Greef (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Spanish riders Iban Mayoz (Footon-Servetto) and Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel) as they built up a maximum lead of three minutes and 50 seconds.
But the sprinters' teams contained their advantage and the breakaway was reeled in with 3km remaining after the escapees had enjoyed 148km out in front.
The peloton had to navigate nine roundabouts in the run-in to the line but everyone stayed upright allowing Petacchi to grab his sixth stage win in the Tour de France and his 46th stage win in a Grand Tour.