LE CAP D'AGDE, France - Andre Greipel of Germany led home a photo-finish sprint to win the 13th stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, while Britain's Bradley Wiggins retained the yellow jersey as the race headed south to the Mediterranean.
The windy and flat 217-kilometer (134.8-mile) run with one major climb from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d'Agde was tailored for a win by one of the race's sprinters.
The German's ability to get over the super-steep Mont Saint-Clair climb, in the picturesque port town of Sete, about 23 kilometers from the finish helped pave way for the victory. Several other top sprinters - like Britain's Mark Cavendish - struggled up the hill and fell back.
Greipel, who turns 30 on Monday, earned his third stage victory of this Tour after winning the fourth and fifth stages in sprint finishes. Still-photo imagery showed he won by half a wheel's length ahead of Slovakian rider Peter Sagan. Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway was third.
Saturday's route was known as a transitional stage because it was mostly flat, and guided riders away from their last big test - the Alps - and toward their next, the Pyrenees.
In a bold move, with less than a kilometer left, Wiggins powered up to the front of the pack with Sky teammate Boasson Hagen on his back wheel, trying to set up the Norwegian for the stage win.
Greipel said he "speculated" that such a plot was being hatched. He pulled up just behind Hagen, then whizzed around him after a final bend and held on to the line.
"I'm really happy with this victory... it was once again a team effort," said Greipel, who has four career Tour stage wins. "The sprint was very long. I was just on the wheel of Boasson Hagen, and I saw that I could win if I just gave a little extra at the end."
"Once we knew that Cavendish wasn't going to come back, everybody said we'd try to do the job for Edvald," Wiggins said. "Sometimes it's just good to get on the front and try to repay a friend of mine back."
Still, Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez, who had been leading in a two-man breakaway that was overtaken by Wiggins, showed his frustration with an angry hand gesture against the man in the yellow jersey.
"It's unfortunate. I can't look after everyone in the peloton," said Wiggins, adding that he does "love" Sanchez as a person. "It's a shame he feels like that."
Sanchez later appeared to have second thoughts about his first reaction and wrote on Twitter, "I beg (at) bradwiggins' pardon. He is the leader of the race so he and his team have the right to do whatever they want."
As the riders neared the coast, the stage's big challenges arrived, including a windy ride between the Mediterranean Sea and the Bassin de Thau - known for its oyster farms.
Evans attacked on the Mont Saint-Clair and got a few seconds ahead of Wiggins. But the Briton and his other closest rivals for the yellow jersey all hung close on the Australian's back wheel.
However, the climb and the windy road to the finish split up the pack, with sprinters like Cavendish and Australia's Matt Goss in a bunch that was more than 8-1/2 minutes behind Greipel and the overall race leaders.
Sunday's 14th stage takes riders along two big climbs in a 191-kilometer trek from Limoux to Foix.
A series of small but challenging climbs late on Friday's stage of the 2012 Giro d'Italia could not stop Britain's Mark Cavendish taking his fourth stage win and second in two days.
BUSSETO, Italy (Reuters) - Defending Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal has withdrawn from this year's race, the Canadian's Garmin-Sharp team announced before the start of Friday's stage 13.
The road to Paris
The best images from the 2012 Tour de France.
Fans of the Tour de France
Cycling fans show their love for the Tour in many creative ways.
Crashes of the Tour de France
Check out some of the nasty crashes from the 2012 Tour de France.