10/07/18 - 12:25
La Baule - Sarzeau
Tour de France • Stage4

La Baule - Sarzeau

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Confirmation of the top 10 in today's sprint.


The likes of Kristoff, Kittel, Degenkolb, Groenewegen and Cavendish were all there - but just not quick enough. Cavendish felt he was obstructed and sat up in the closing metres with a shake of his fist. This is how tight it was...


Greipel had to go early and it almost paid off - but in the end the big German veteran was beaten by the young bucks in Gaviria and Sagan.


Victory for Fernando Gaviria! Replays show that the Colombian took it by half a wheel. What a finish.


Greipel goes early and powers clear! Will he hold on? Gaviria and Sagan come late either side of him... PHOTO FINISH!


Now Sagan and Gaviria come to the front...


Under the banner they go - and Van Keirsbulck has been caught. It's party time - and Dimension Data and Trek are on the front for Cavendish and Degenkolb.


Van Keirsbulck rides clear of his fellow escapees in search of the combativity prize. They're caught - he will be soon.


Ilnur Zakarin is being paced back by a Katusha rider after coming down in that incident. The break is about to be caught...


Uran is almost back on. Zakarin looked to have been taken out by that and Quintana are on the back so one of their leaders could have been held up. Sky and Dimension Data are on the front now. The gap is 20 seconds.


That was nasty. A touch of wheels - a rider went over the bars, his bike was flung back through the pack and took out a raft of riders. Tiesj Benoot is down and out, as is a Ag2R-La Mondiale rider. Uran looks to be held up, too. Carnage.


CRASH: Huge pile-up in the peloton.


Still 45 seconds for the leaders.


Oh, it's a free for all! Dimension Data have come to the front, as have Bora - both with one rider apiece - and it disrupts the Quick-Step train.


Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain Merida are starting to edge forward for their men Sagan and Sonny Colbrelli.


Under the 10km barrier they go and the gap is 1'07" for our four leaders. It would be quite something if they held on - but with that uphill rise to the line, even if they're ahead going into the final kilometre, they'll struggle to defy the sprinters.


Katusha-Alpecin are now making their presence known for Marcel Kittel. The gap is 1'15".


The reason for the tension is because the break still has 1'30" and in Cousin there is a rider who, in Paris-Nice earlier this season, managed to hold the pack at bay before pick-pocketing Nils Politt and taking an unlikely stage win.


Quick-Step now have their entire team in train formation on the front. Sunweb are there for Matthews, Trek for Degenkolb and UAE for Kristoff. There's also a single FDJ rider, who Tim Declercq lays into for not helping out. Aggro in the pack as tensions arise.


Movistar and Ag2R-La Mondiale have come to the front now to keep their GC men out of trouble. The gap is still 1'45" for the four leaders.



It's the Quick-Step train on the front of the pack now with four riders pulling hard to set up their man Fernando Gaviria for a second win. Two minutes for the four leaders.


It's all about the battle for the combativity award now between the four escapees as the gap starts to tumble.


Despite this hefty shift from De Gendt and De Clercq the break have maintained a 2'50" gap over the pack. Defiance. But how long can they hold on for? It's been a long day out there - and the peloton have been taking things very, very easily. But it's not a given just yet.


Belgians Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Floors) come to the front to start the inevitable reprisals over the audacity of the breakaway, whose time out ahead must come to an end.


The peloton passes through the sprint with a deficit of over two and a half minutes, and so there is still some work to be done. Groenewegen is finally back in the pack following that earlier crash. Can the Dutchman get back to winning ways today?


Claeys takes the bonus sprint ahead of Van Keirsbulck and Perez as the 3-2-1 bonus seconds are divvied up without consequence for the GC battle.


There's no chance that the break will be reeled in, mind. They still have 2'30" on the pack.


We're onto an uphill drag a few kilometres away from the bonus sprint and BMC are heavily involved on the front - especially their man in yellow Greg van Avermaet - in the unlikely event that the break is reeled in and they have to contest for the spoils. Remember, GVA is only three seconds ahead of Thomas on GC and five clear of compatriot Gilbert.


Rear puncture for Tony Gallopin of Ag2R-La Mondiale. That will be unwelcome - he's already riding with injuries following his crash in the French national championships the weekend before the Tour, and he's still hobbling around as a result of those broken ribs.


Astana's Jakob Fulgsang was involved in that sprint - as was Dylan Groenewegen of LottoNL-Jumbo. They both have team-mates with them to help them back.


CRASH: There's a slow-pace spill in the middle of the peloton, prompting many riders to roll into a ditch and others to hit the deck in a tangle of bikes. The pace wasn't high but that will be unwelcome.


As expected, Lawson Craddock found that climb rather hard. The American crashed in the opening stage and fractured his scapula - a bone in the shoulder. He got dropped and is fighting back on now.


Slight spat between Sagan and a BMC rider when the peloton comes onto the climb, but it's nothing to write home about.


The break is onto the Cat.4 Cote de Saint-Jean-la-Poterie (o.8km at 7.8%) and it's Anthony Perez (Cofidis) who takes the solitary point going over the summit. The Frenchman is well down on GC, though, and so Dion Smith will retain the polka dot jersey today.


Today's finish rises 13m in the final kilometre and so we have a slightly uphill finish which should suit riders like Sagan, Gaviria and Demare, perhaps even Van Avermaet, the yellow jersey. That said, don't discount the likes of Cavendish, Greipel, Groenewegen, Kittel and Kristoff - although the last two plus Cav have been pretty poor of late.


Lappartient added: "I don't want to dignify him with a response but I'll just say that the last man who derided me for being a "Britanny mayor" didn't fare so well. It was Brian Cookson (ahead of the UCI presidency election). He [Brailsford] doesn't understand that it's the mayors of France who ensure that the Tour comes to certain towns. He doesn't understand much about cycling. When you're arrogant one day or another it comes back and bites you in the backside, brings you back to humility."


The mayor of today's finish town of Sarzeau? None other than UCI President David Lappartient, who Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford earlier this week described as having a "local French mayor mentality" who needs to learn what his "responsibilities" are. To which Lappartient replied that "Brailsford has insulted the 35,000 mayors of France".


They'd better get a wiggle on or the French and Belgian riders in the peloton will miss the start of the World Cup semi-final at this rate...


Chris Froome has stopped for a call of nature along with a raft of Team Sky riders. Not a bad time to stop given the easy pace and lack of serious activity. He'll be mindful of the stressful finale in Saturday's opening stage though, during which he was rode off the road and almost his a bollard.


Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen is currently off the back of the pack with his LottoNL-Jumbo team. He appears to have an issue with his helmet, which he has swapped, meaning he rides bare headed for a few seconds. Technically, this is against the rules and he should stop. It could merit disqualification but that would be harsh. A small fine in Swiss francs may be coming his way, though. The 25-year-old won on the Champs Elysees last year but so far has only managed a 6th and 32nd place - albeit that second time after being involved in the crash which also bought down the then yellow jersey Gaviria.


Just 2'10" now for the leaders, who will at the very least hope to hold out until the fourth category climb, which comes in around 20km.



Here was how the intermediate sprint panned out...


When the pack comes along there's a flurry of activity but in the end it's a routine affair with the top dogs arriving in a straight line in this order: Gaviria, Greipel, Sagan, Degenkolb and Kristoff. The gap is down to 3'20" for the four leaders as Gaviria slashes Sagan's lead in the green jersey competition a touch.


The intermediate sprint is uncontested with Van Keirsbulck riding through on the front of the break ahead of Claeys, Perez and Cousin in that order. Expect more fireworks when the peloton come through and the sprinters contest to mop up the final points in the green jersey battle.


The gap is down to exactly five minutes as the leaders pass through the 100km to go point. We have the intermediate sprint coming up in a couple of kilometres.


Here was that moment when Cavendish dropped his radio - perhaps the only point of real interest so far in an otherwise extremely sedate stage. Do stay tuned, though, because things will get more interesting with the intermediate sprint, the climb and the bonus sprint. And remember what happened in the opening stage with all those crashes and mechanicals in the last 15km...


A reminder of our four escapees: Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie), Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis). They have been out pretty much since the outset today. Just the one Tour debutant in Perez, with Cousin riding his third Grande Boucle and the other two their second. None has a Tour stage win to his name.


The gap has dropped below the six-minute mark thanks to the increase in tempo in the peloton at the hands (or legs) of Lotto Soudal. To be fair, Quick-Step, FDJ and LottoNL-Jumbo have also joined in to fight for the right to set things up for their sprinters Gaviria, Demare and Groenewegen.


Now Lotto-Soudal have come through to take up the chasing duties as they bid to set things up for their man Andre Greipel. The German was fourth on Sunday after missing out completely on Saturday's opening stage. Last year he didn't win a stage on the Tour for the first time in six years and, despite being off form for a while now, the 35-year-old will be hoping to show that he still has what it takes to mix it with the young whippersnappers of the sport. It's Thomas De Gendt who sets the tempo for the Belgian team.


It's all very sedate at the moment as the riders continue that in-land loop from Britanny into the Loire-Atlantique before heading back towards the coast for the finale.


The latest in our #AskSagan series...


The gap drops below seven minutes as the break passes some high quality farming displays on the side of the road. Meanwhile, it's the Movistar team of the Quintana-Landa-Valverde GC tryptic who have come to the front to help with pace-setting duties.


Britain's Mark Cavendish is currently off the back of the peloton sorting out a few issues - one of which is with his radio. As he slows, the Dimension Data rider actually drops it and is falls into a ditch, prompting the 33-year-old to clamber off his bike and dart down to retrieve the expensive piece of kit. The Manx Missile has been misfiring so far in this year's Tour: he had an issue with his chain on Satuday and came home in 36th and then was caught out behind the Gaviria crash in stage 2 and finished 35th. Can he get his race back on track today?


It's the BMC team of yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet who set the tempo in the bunch - but they're not too bothered about the gap for now, knowing that they'll get a hand from the teams of the sprinters once they click into action. The gap is now seven minutes.


The gap is 7'30" after 50km or riding for the break. They covered 42.6km in the first hour of racing.


Greg van Avermaet is on a special BMC with a custom yellow paint job today.


The gap for our four-man break is up to 7'38" as Guillaume van Keirsbulck sets the tempo. The rangy Wanty rider was very much a regular fixture in the breakaways in last year's Tour, along with team-mate Yoann Offredo.


The final jersey to catch up on is the polka dot climber's jersey, which is being worn by the New Zealander Dion Smith of Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Smith is level with Kevin Ledanois of Fortuneo-Samsic on the one single point by wears the jersey by virtue of being higher in the standings. Today there's a Cat.4 climb after 135km and so another point up for grabs. And in theory, Smith will be in polka dots today regardless of who gets the point (provided this break is swept up before the finish, of course) because he's higher than any of the four riders on GC.


In hindsight, I think I was a bit harsh about the Château de la Bretesche. It may have sold out and become a golf and spa resort... but it is pretty spectacular.


Over four minutes now for the breakaway. It's odd that there are no Fortuneo-Samsic riders out ahead given that the race is now in the team's native Brittany. Perhaps they're keeping their powder dry for the more demanding fifth and sixth stages, where they could have more of an impact.


In the battle for the white jersey, Fernando Gaviria - who was in yellow on day two, and led the green jersey standings too - dropped down the youth standings after suffering in the TTT for Quick-Step Floors. It's now the Denmark's Soren Kraug Andersen (Team Sunweb) who's in white. He leads Colombia's Egan Bernal (Team Sky) by 1'08" and compatriot Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana) by 1'22".


Having conceded the yellow jersey yesterday, Peter Sagan is in the green jersey today. The world champion leads Fernando Gaviria by 104 points to the Colombian's 78, with Norway's Alexander Kristoff in third place at 53 points. With the intermediate sprint and the finish today, it's another important leg for the green jersey candidates as Sagan bids to win a record-equalling sixth green jersey this year.


Back to the GC and with regards to the big favourites it's Tom Dumoulin who is best placed just 11 seconds down on Van Avermaet and eight seconds behind the best GC rider in Thomas. Richie Porte and Chris Froome put themselves back in the picture after their opening weekend wobbles, but there was more woe for Nairo Quintana after the Colombian dropped to 59th place more than two minutes adrift after Movistar's TTT.


So, two Frenchman and two Belgians in the break... mirroring tonight's World Cup semi-final. The gap has grown above five minutes now.


A reminder that the yellow jersey is being worn by Greg van Avermaet of BMC for the second time in his career. The Belgian Olympic Champion had a three-day stint in yellow two years ago after winning that stage to Le Lioran in the Massif Central. GVA is tied at the top with team-mate Tejay Van Garderen with Geraint Thomas (Sky) in third at three seconds, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step) fourth at five seconds and Bob Jungels fifth at seven seconds.


The gap has quickly stretched out to three minutes for our four leaders - it seems the peloton is more than happy to let this one go.


There was a delay to today's start because of a crash to Marcus Burghardt of Bora-Hansgrohe in the neutral zone, which delayed things by one kilometre. So, the race will only be 194km today as opposed to the expected 195km.


We've had a flurry of attacks from the outset - and after their abject performance in yesterday's TTT (in which they finished in last place, more than three minutes down) Cofidis have two riders in the break: Dimitri Claeys and Anthony Perez. They're joined by Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Jerone Cousin (Direct Energie).


And they're off! Christian Prudhomme waves the flag to end the neutral zone and get this stage under way...


And here's more details about this out-and-back stage to and from the Brittany coast. INFO: As the race enters cycling-mad Brittany the riders can expect fans aplenty with the route heading inland on an out-and-back loop to and from the coast. If marginally lumpier, this should be another stage for the sprinters – although another solitary Cat.4 climb should define any break and provide a polka-dot distraction inside the final third.

Video - Tour de France 2018: Stage 4 profile


Here's the official profile of today's stage - with that single fourth-category climb two thirds in the only test of the day.


Yesterday, Belgium's Greg van Avermaet took over the race lead after his BMC team put in a commanding performance to win the team time trial at Cholet ahead of Team Sky and Quick-Step Floors. The BMC team of Australia’s Richie Porte completed an undulating 35.5km course through in La Vendee in a time of 38 minutes and 46 seconds to beat Chris Froome’s Sky by four seconds and the Quick-Step Floors team of Bob Jungels by seven seconds. Read all about it below...


Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage four of the Tour de France - a 195km ride from La Baule to Sarzeau in Brittany, and another chance for the sprinters to shine.