Consecutive stage wins for the German but action is marred by fresh doping allegations against seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.
Andre Greipel asserts his superiority at Tour de France
SAINT-QUENTIN, France // Andre Greipel, the German cyclist, claimed his second win in as many days today as the Tour de France was rocked by the doping controversy swirling around Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner.
The Lotto rider Greipel had claimed his first win of this year's race yesterday when he dominated a small-bunch sprint devoid of rival Mark Cavendish after the Briton suffered a crash inside the final three kilometres.
This time, Cavendish was in the mix.
But after a tough, slightly uphill finish that was arguably more suited to his rivals, the Team Sky sprinter could only finish fifth.
Greipel, taking his third victory of the race after his inaugural win ahead of Cavendish last year, beat Australia's Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) at the end of the 196km ride, with Argentina's Juan Jose Haedo of Saxo Bank in third.
"I'm very happy with this second win and I want to say thank you to my teammates for all their hard work," said Greipel, who was quick to affirm his status as one of Cavendish's main threats this year.
"I don't know why everyone believes I can't beat him. I already beat him last year and I have the best team around me.
"Yesterday he crashed, but today he was there. I'm very happy to win my second stage in the Tour de France."
Before the peloton set off from Rouen an explosive report appeared in a Dutch newspaper claiming that four former teammates of Armstrong had testified against the Texan and were facing six-month bans.
Armstrong, who has consistently denied using performance-enhancing drugs, was notified recently that he has been charged with doping by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
De Telegraaf alleged the quartet competing in this year's race - the Americans George Hincapie (BMC), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma), Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie (both Garmin) - have confessed to doping and had given evidence against him.
Hincapie, a teammate of the Australian Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, refused to directly comment on the allegation ahead of today's stage.
"I'm just disappointed this is being brought up once again," said Hincapie, the only rider to accompany Armstrong in all seven of his triumphant Tour campaigns.
The Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara held onto the leader's yellow jersey, seven seconds ahead of the Briton Bradley Wiggins with Evans, the defending champion, in seventh, 17 seconds back. The RadioShack rider will spend his 27th day in the yellow jersey on Friday, meaning he will overtake Rene Vietto's record for owning the biggest collection of Tour leader's jerseys for someone who has not won the overall title.
"That's something I'm very proud of," said Cancellara, who first pulled on the famous jersey in 2004 when he won the prologue in Liege. The Swiss, however, refused to be drawn on the controversy which threatens to overshadow the remainder of the race for the teams with rider implicated in the Armstrong probe.
"There was no talk of that today in the race," Cancellara said when asked if it had been a topic of discussion in the peloton.
"On the other hand, it's something I don't want to discuss too much because I want to look forwards and not back."
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