Sparkling Petacchi grabs Reims stage

At the start of the Tour in Rotterdam, sprinter Mark Cavendish was expected to outshine the rest of the field but it is the Italian who has emerged as the strongest finisher in the race so far.

"To win two stages on the Tour de France means a lot, especially at this time in my career," said Petacchi, also victor of the first stage in Brussels.  Swiss Fabian Cancellara retained his overall lead at the end of a quiet ride in the sun after two incident-packed days marred by crashes.

The day was also quieter for seven-times champion Lance Armstrong until after the finish when he was booed by a spectator at his team bus and driven away in a car.

While Cavendish, set up for the final showdown by team-mate Mark Renshaw, was unable to move up a gear when the action started, the other stage honours went to New Zealand's Julian Dean and Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen.

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