Second for Peter Sagan as sprinters snatch victory from the break on Tour de France stage 4.
With the breakaway holding the peloton at bay for 194km of the 195km parcours, it looked as though the escape would just make it to the end today. However, at the Tour de France, once the sprinters have the scent of the finish line, there’s no holding them back. Making the catch under the Flamme Rouge, the world’s best fought it out, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, battling through crowds and making space no other rider could find. Missing the win by just half a wheel, Peter held the race’s Maillot Vert
Today’s stage saw riders steadily making their way north, from the glamour of La Baule to Sarzeau further up the Brittany coast. The 195km route took an indirect route, heading inland before looping back round to its finale. While the parcours was fairly flat throughout, with only one short fourth category climb to challenge the peloton, Atlantic winds would make the going difficult, and some street furniture in the final kilometres had the potential to cause crashes and splits, but with a flat and straight finale, provided they reached the finale safely, one of the sprinters would be taking the win today.
The Team Tactics
While the GC race was yet to start taking shape, it was still important to make sure Rafał Majka stayed safe in these early days in order to remain in contention. The first few road stages had seen many of the GC riders crash or experience mechanical problems, while others had been caught behind splits and lost valuable time that would be valuable later on. The flat finale seemed tailor-made for the pure sprinters and it would be important to make sure the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was delivered to the finish in a strong position to challenge for the win. Daniel Oss would be his lead-out man in the narrow roads leading to the line.
After yesterday’s tough Team Time Trial, riders were still feeling the efforts in their legs when they rolled out today. While some would want to take it easy, the breakaway had other ideas, with the quartet of escapees building up an advantage that was at odds the efforts of the time trial. Within a few kilometres their lead was up to 3:30, topping out at a little less than eight minutes. Breaking the 100km mark, the peloton upped the pace, but still the break held their advantage. As the kilometres passed, all four riders remained out in front, and while the time gap decreased, with 10km remaining, they still held the peloton at bay by more than a minute. While the peloton was spurred on, a crash with 5km to go split the bunch and made it harder still to keep up the pace and make the catch, but with just a kilometre remaining, they were finally reeled in. In a narrow finale, it looked as though the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was blocked in, but fighting for room and jumping from wheel to wheel, the Slovak rider found space where no other rider would find it. In the end, Peter was just held off – the winning margin coming down to half a wheel. His second position meant the BORA-hansgrohe rider would hold the Green Jersey for another day, while Rafał Majka remained eleventh in the overall standings.
01 F.Gaviria 4h25’01”
02 P.Sagan +0:00
03 A.Greipel +0:00
04 D.Groenewegen +0:00
05 M.Kittel +0:00
From the Finish Line
"The headwind was a big issue today in the final sprint and positioning and timing were crucial. I finished second and I'm happy to keep the green jersey. Today's breakaway was strong and the escapees did a good job. We didn't pull for most of the race except for the final kilometres and let the other teams do it. The fight for the green jersey is on but we have a long race to Paris with some climbs in between. The important thing is that we also managed to stay again clear of trouble and avoid the crashes of the final kilometres. The guys are doing a great job in that aspect." – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion
"I think we can be happy with the result today. We kept the green jersey and the finale suited Gaviria more than Peter. We were always in the front when we had to and stayed out of trouble during the whole day. In the final kilometres, when the big crash happened, Rafa was safe with our guys at the head of the bunch and was able to avoid any trouble. We are very focused so far and everything is going really well. The next two days will suit us more and we’ll try to take our chances."– Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director