By Thomas Dodd
- Marcel Kittel wins stage four from Saumur to Limoges in photo finish
- German records ninth stage victory at Tour and first since 2014
- No major incidents for favourites on tour-longest 237.5km day
LIMOGES, FRANCE – Germany’s Marcel Kittel won stage four of the Tour de France following a bunch sprint and another photo finish into Limoges.
The Etixx-Quick Step rider edged out France’s Bryan Coquard of Direct Energie by the width of an inner tube to claim his first victory of this year’s race and the ninth in his career overall.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who had been hoping to move into second on the all-time list of stage winners with victory, was crowded out in the final few hundred metres as a sharp roundabout with 3km go caused chaos in the peloton and prevented the sprinters’ teams from forming their lead out trains successfully.
Tuesday’s route was the longest the race will face all Tour, but the completely flat 237.5km passed off without incident and drama and even the breakaway trio of Markel Irizar, Oliver Naesen and Andreas Schillinger was reeled in with ample time to spare.
A sharp right turn on the run in to Limoges seemed to momentarily derail the main pack and several of the high profile sprinters were forced to feed off each other to set themselves up for a tilt at the finish line.
After yesterday’s sprint required a photo to decide the winner between Cavendish and Andre Greipel, stage four was also settled in the race director’s hut, and the distance separating the riders could not have been closer.
It was a quiet but uneventful day for the main chasers too, though the four bonus seconds Peter Sagan received for coming home in third place (his lowest stage result to date) meant he extended his advantage at the head of the race.
The Slovakian’s time in the Maillot Jaune could well come to an end tomorrow, however, as the 216km stage from Limoges to Le Lioran will see the riders tackle six categorised climbs, including up to the finish line at 1,235m above sea level.
Stage 4 result: Saumur to Limoges (237.5km)
1. Marcel Kittel (GER) Etixx-QuickStep 5h 28m 30seconds
2. Bryan Coquard (FRA) Direct Energie +04 seconds
3. Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff +06
4. Dylan Groenewegen (HOL) Team Lotto Jumbo NL +10
5. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha +10
6. Sondre Holst Enger (NOR) IAM Cycling +10
7. Daniel McLay (GBR) Fortuneo +10
8. Mark Cavendish (GBR) Dimension Data +10
9. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) AG2R Le Mondiale +10
10. Simon Gerrans (AUS) Orica +10
37. Chris Froome, Sky +10 seconds
40. Geraint Thomas, Sky +10
50. Adam Yates, Orica +10
131. Luke Rowe, Sky +1m33
142. Ian Stannard, Sky +1m33
192. Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data +6m28
Overall Standings (After Stage 4):
- Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff 20h 32m 02seconds
- Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Etixx-QuickStep +12 seconds
- Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar +14
- Warren Barguil (FRA) Giant-Alpecin +18
- Chris Froome (GBR) Sky +18
- Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Tinkoff +18
- Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar+18
- Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana +18
- Daniel Martin (IRE) Etixx-QuickStep +18
- Pierre Rolland (FRA) Cannondale +18
19. Adam Yates, Orica +18 seconds
44. Geraint Thomas, Sky +42
65. Mark Cavendish, Sky +1m43
121. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo +7m09
160. Luke Rowe, Sky +10m37
164. Ian Stannard, Sky +10m58
191. Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data +17m08
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