The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 4

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

The Steps

1st – Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)

2nd – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

3rd – Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)

 

The Parcours

Stage 4 took a 195km route from La Baule to Sarzeau, ending with another sprint finish. An intermediate sprint came halfway through the stage, a Cat 4 Climb with 60km to go, and the bonus second sprint came with 40km to go. The sprint finish was arrow straight for the final 4km, but on a false flat, as the final 1.5km rose at a 2% gradient.

The Jerseys

Yellow – Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)

Polka Dot – Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

Green – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

White – Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)

The Break

It was another all Pro-Conti break, as Guillaume Van Kiersbulck of Wanty-Groupe Gobert was joined by Anthony Perez and Dimitri Claeys of Cofidis, and Jerome Cousin of Direct Energie, who was spending his second day out front. They got a gap immediately and quickly found a lead of nearly 8 minutes. Van Kiersbulk took the Intermediate Sprint, Claeys the 3 bonus second, and Anthony Perez collected the KOM Point.

The four were nearly in the sights of the peloton as their gap dropped down to a minute on the KOM climb. The peloton backed off the pace sensibly, and the gap ballooned out to 3 minutes. At this point, the break found a second wind, and suddenly a sprint didn’t look so certain.

With 20km to go, they still had a 2:30 lead, and it didn’t look like coming down quick enough as they carried a minute’s lead into the final 8km and only QuickStep were working the front. The peloton left their charge late though, noticeably ramping up their pace in the finale, as more teams joined.

 

The Finish

For the first time in a long time, the peloton was noticeably quicker the awesome foursome out front, but it was far from a sure thing, with none of the four skipping turns and Cofidis yet to enact any team tactics.

With 5km to go, an enormous pileup occurred, right near the front of the peloton. Several riders were held up, including Rigoberto Uran, Ilnur Zakarin and Mikel Landa; all of which chasing for real time as the crash occurred outside 3km to go.

With 3.5km to go and a lead of 25 seconds, the front four finally started playing Cat and Mouse. That signalled the beginning of the end for them, as they were brought back by the flame rouge. Dimension Data controlled the front for Mark Cavendish at the 750m to go point but were swamped by QuickStep for Gaviria, with the Green-Jersey-wearing Sagan on his wheel.

Greipel opened up the sprint from behind, going wheel-to-wheel with Gaviria, while Peter Sagan tried his mightiest to find a way through... He found one in the final 50, and beat Greipel in the throw, but was resigned to second; as Gaviria took another stage win in his incredible debut Tour

 

The Aussies

31st - Michael Hepburn

34th - Michael Matthews

40th - Heinrich Haussler

45th - Richie Porte

55th - Mat Hayman

66th - Simon Gerrans

107th - Mark Renshaw @ 0:27

136th - Simon Clarke @ 2:44

147th - Luke Durbridge @ 3:22

158th - Damien Howson @ 3:48

164th - Rory Sutherland @ 3:48

 

The Movers and Shakers

The only thing to produce time gaps on Stage 4 was crashes, with the one in the final 5km causing carnage. Uran and Landa made it back on afterwards, but Zakarin lost 57 seconds. That was Landa’s second crash of the day though, so he’ll be sore tomorrow. As will Jakob Fuglsang, who came down hard in an earlier crash, but finished with the main group.

 

The Next Stage

Stage 5 is the first lumpy stage of this year’s Tour, with 5 Categorised climbs in the final 100km of the 205km from Lorient to Quimper. There are two Category 4 climbs and three Category 3 climbs planned, with the hardest being the Cote de Menez Quelerc’h, which is 3km at 6%. The final climb comes with 23km to go, though the roads continue to roll on the way in, and the final kilometre itself is an uncategorized climb as well, rising at 4.8%. There’s also the Bonus Seconds Sprint, which comes with 12km to go, and it too might shake things up.

 

The Pick

This stage will be difficult, but probably because of the narrow twisty roads and the nervous peloton, rather than testing terrain. That said, the climbs will likely shed most of the sprinters, leaving us the classics guys to fight for the win. Sorry to tip him again, but Sagan’s in imperious form this season, and it’s another stage built for him. At this point, it feels like every stage is built for him.

See you back at the social club,

Josh

 


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