Germany's Andre Greipel pipped fierce rival and former team mate Mark Canvendish at the line to claim a maiden Tour de France victory on Tuesday.

Greipel, riding in his first Tour, denied Cavendish at the climax of an exhilarating sprint finish to win the 158km, 10th stage run from Aurillac to Carmaux. It was the first time Greipel had beaten his former HTC team-mate in a head-to-head sprint. Thomas Voeckler retained the yellow jersey, one minute 49 seconds ahead of Luis Leon Sanchez.

Cavendish, who won stages five and seven last week, had worked through the field into a superb position coming into the final leg of the stage. But Greipel stuck with the Manxman throughout the tight turns and overtook him on the line.

"I was dreaming of winning a stage on the Tour and if it meant beating him, so be it," Greipel told reporters.

"I have a lot of respect for him, he is the best sprinter in the history of the Tour with 17 wins and I had the chance to beat him. Of course he was not always friendly with his comments to me. I just try to show on the bike what I'm able to do," he said.

Cavendish was magnanimous after being denied an 18th Tour stage win.

"I went early but it was not too early on this type of finish. I didn't have enough kick I kind of rolled around and Greipel just came faster and beat me," he said.

"I'm happy for him, he came to the Tour and won a stage."

A list of the overall standings is available here

Andre Greipel
Omega Pharma-Lotto rider Greipel of Germany is flanked by HTC-Highroad rider Cavendish of Britain during the final sprint in the tenth stage of the Tour de France 2011. REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE