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Too few sprinters

Fabian Cancellara, the Tour de France yellow jersey wearer for stage five, has his own view on why there have been so many crashes in the first week of this year's race. The Swiss superstar blames the lack of sprinters' teams who have the calibre to control the pace of the race into sprint finishes. Cancellara was speaking after Wednesday's 214.5-kilometre fourth stage from Abbeville to Rouen, which was won by German Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) in a sprint between about 15 to 20 riders rather than a packed peloton. A crash with less than three kilometres to go took out a number of riders, including British world-champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) and Australian Mark Renshaw (Rabobank). Cancellara, who survived the mayhem, said: ''When there isn't a team with a [Mario] Cipollini or HTC train, the fight is bigger. Everyone is trying to get their rider on the wheel and in the right place. There is Lotto and Orica[-GreenEDGE], but there are no sprinters' teams who will put six or seven riders at the front. So with three kilometres to go there is this mess and someone touches each other and crashes. What is certain is that no one is doing it on purpose. It's just that everyone is trying to get a spot behind Cavendish, a [Marcel] Kittel or a Greipel.''


The Tour peloton is not only a patchwork of colours, but also of various sizes and ages. Here are a few facts and figures to digest: the shortest rider is Frenchman Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) who is 159 centimetres; Belgium's Johan van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp) is the tallest rider at 197cm; the number of riders aged less than 25 and vying for the white jersey is 23; the average kilometres covered by every vehicle in the Tour is 7500-8000km.


''When he got back in the bus … I can't repeat what he said,''

Sky team manager David Brailsford describing Mark Cavendish's reaction after his collision inside the last three kilometres of stage four.