World champion Mark Cavendish was today seeking to draw level with Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade by claiming a 22nd Tour de France stage win of his career.

Today's 214.5-kilometre fourth stage from Abbeville to Rouen appears made for the sprinters and Cavendish will be seeking to emulate Peter Sagan, the Slovakian who has already won two stages of the 2012 Tour.

Cavendish (Team Sky) won Monday's second stage to take his tally to 21 stage wins, sixth on the all-time list headed by Eddy Merckx with 34.

Crosswinds from The Channel could yet cause havoc, though, on a peloton which endured a crash-strewn third stage into Boulogne-sur-Mer yesterday.

Team Sky sports director Sean Yates said: "There's no straightforward day on the Tour de France. You never know what's around the corner."

Yates' charges were left licking their wounds and thanking their luck after Bradley Wiggins survived relatively unscathed on a stage punctuated by collisions to remain second overall, seven seconds behind Fabian Cancellara.

The repercussions could have a lasting impact on Wiggins' hopes of overall victory, though, after Kanstantsin Siutsou crashed out with a broken left leg.

Yates added: "He (Siutsou) is a big loss. We have to deal with it.
"It will just impact on the workload of the other seven members of the team."

Wiggins had to remain calm in a frantic finale yesterday.

He finished in 53rd place, almost one minute down after being caught in a crash less than 300metres from the finish, but avoided the loss of time due to a rule regarding crashes in the final 3km. Michael Rogers and Chris Froome were among those to also benefit.

Edvald Boasson Hagen was the best-placed Team Sky rider, finishing runner-up to Sagan, who took a commanding 42-point lead in the points classification standings.

Cavendish won the green jersey last year, but was 44 points behind the Slovak entering today's stage and now may have to focus on team duties to aid Wiggins' overall bid.

Yates added: "I'm sure he won't be allergic to that. We have to share the workload."