SAINT-QUENTIN, France - In another crash-marred finish, Andre Greipel of Germany led a frenzied sprint to win the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday for his second straight stage victory.

Fabian Cancellara retained the overall leader's yellow jersey for a sixth straight day after the mostly flat 122-mile trek from Rouen to Saint-Quentin - almost tailor-made for sprinters except for a slight uphill near the end.

The barreling pack Thursday overtook three breakaway riders with barely 110 yards left, and Greipel wheeled out in front, a split-second ahead of Matt Goss of Australia, who was second, and Juan Jose Haedo of Argentina, who took third. Britain's Mark Cavendish was fifth.

Like in Greipel's sprint-finish victory a day before, a late crash tarnished the stage, and he counted himself "lucky" to avoid a spill in two straight days.

"Somehow I stayed on my bike," said Greipel, who turns 30 on July 16. "It was quite a tough finish there … and it was also luck on our part to catch the breakaway."

The top standings didn't change: Bradley Wiggins, the leader of Cavendish's Team Sky, was second overall, seven seconds behind the Swiss leader. Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia was 17 seconds off the pace in seventh.

By holding the lead, Cancellara earned the right to wear the coveted yellow jersey for the 27th time in his career, a record for a rider who has never won the Tour.

"When you make history in this kind of way at the Tour, it's more special," said Cancellara, a time-trial specialist and the only man to don the yellow this year after winning Saturday's prologue.

The race got its first minor dose of rain Thursday, and another dropout: Germany's Marcel Kittel, who has endured gastric troubles for the past few days, pulled out to reduce the field to 194 riders.

Today's sixth stage - a 128-mile jaunt from Epernay in Champagne country to Metz - offers the last leg in the northern flats this week to favor sprinters, before a steep uphill finish on Saturday.

Tensions rise

U.S. sprinter Tyler Farrar finished the fifth stage of the Tour de France bloodied and angry and was pulled away from the rider he blamed for causing his third crash in as many days.

Before stunned onlookers, Farrar dropped his bicycle and stormed toward the Argos-Shimano team bus of rival sprinter Tom Veelers, shouting, "You don't do that to someone."

Argos-Shimano riders pushed Farrar away from their bus while staff from the American's Garmin-Sharp team ran to pull him back to their own bus, which was parked nearby.

Neither Farrar nor Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters would comment on the rider's outburst. Roy Curvers, a Dutch rider from Argos-Shimano, said Farrar came looking for Veelers.

"He wanted to talk to Tom. He said you don't do that in a sprint, but I don't know what he was talking about," Curvers said. "Normally Tyler is a really fair guy, when he's a little bit more at ease you can talk about it normally. I don't see a problem for the future."


• What: Tour de France, Stage 6

• When: 5 a.m.

• TV: NBC Sports Network