Tour de France Diary, Stage Four: Greipel takes win amid chaos
Stage four saw riders complete a lumpy 215km trip from Abbeville to Rouen – the longest stage of the 99th Tour de France to date.
With only moderate winds blowing along the often blustery Alabaster coastline and sun beaming down on helmets, conditions were ideal. Well, for a while.
Clouds rolled in with 50km remaining, bringing with them the patchy rain that threatened to become a mainstay on stage one. Fortunately, the bad weather cleared before the finish.
Even with four categorised climbs dotting the race map, all of them category four, the stage was always expected to end in a bunch sprint. And it did, despite the peloton being torn apart by a dramatic crash with 2.6km left.
Among those prevented from contesting the finish were keynote sprinters Mark Cavendish (Sky Pro Cycling) and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), who both hit the deck hard.
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) survived the carnage to score a much-deserved stage win ahead of Italian veteran Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) and Australian Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Earlier, a three-man breakaway built a significant advantage over the rest of the field.
Having featured in the break on each of the first three road stages, King of the Mountains (KOM) leader Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) stayed in the main pack. The Dane’s lead in the classification was in no danger.
Instead, it was David Moncoutie (Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun) who made their way off the front.
At one point the trio’s advantage threatened to balloon out of control, peaking at 8’40”, before RadioShack-Nissan decided enough was enough and started to work.
Moncoutie, a four-time winner of the KOM at the Vuelta a Espana, and Delaplace took the honours on two climbs each. Both Frenchmen move into equal second in the battle for polka dots, seven points behind Morkov.
Arashiro led the breakaway through the intermediate sprint at Fécamp, unchallenged by Delaplace and Moncoutie.
Some six minutes later, given the 13 points still on offer for the next rider, the sprint point was keenly contested by the remainder of the field. Cavendish crossed the checkpoint in fourth, just ahead of Goss and Renshaw.
Tomorrow’s stage five from Rouen to Saint-Quentin will have been earmarked by the sprinters pre-Tour.
The 197km journey through northern France features no categorised climbs, but if recent intermediate sprints are anything to go by, the race for the green jersey checkpoint in Breteuil (after 109km) will be intense.
The final kilometre is slightly uphill with an average gradient of 2.8%, which will again bring Sagan into the mix for what could be his third stage victory at this year’s Tour.
Cavendish, Goss and Greipel, sprinters in the purest sense, will also fancy their chances.
Tour de France Stage 4 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. GREIPEL Andre, LOtime trialO-BELISOL, 05h 18′ 32″
2. PETACCHI Alessandro, LAMPRE-ISD, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
3. VEELERS Tom, ARGOS-SHIMANO, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
4. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
5. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
6. CANTWELL Jonathan, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
7. IMPEY Daryl, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
8. BOECKMENS Kris, VACANSOLEIS-DCM, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
9. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
10. PEREZ MORENO Ruben, EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI, 05h 18′ 32″+ 00′ 00″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 147
2. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 92
3. GREIPEL Andre, LOtime trialO-BELISOL, 87
4. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 86
5. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 81
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. MORKOV Michael, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 9
2. BASSO Ivan, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 2
3. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 2
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 20h 04′ 02″
2. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 20h 04′ 09″+ 00′ 07″
3. CHAVANEL Sylvain, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 20h 04′ 09″+ 00′ 07″
4. VAN GARDEREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 20h 04′ 12″ + 00′ 10″
5. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 20h 04′ 13″+ 00′ 11″
6. MENCHOV Denis, KATUSHA, 20h 04′ 15″+ 00′ 13″
7. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 20h 04′ 19″ + 00′ 17″
8. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 20h 04′ 20″+ 00′ 18″
9. HESJEDAL Ryder, GARMIN-SHARP, 20h 04′ 20″+ 00′ 18″
10. KLODEN Andreas, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 20h 04′ 21″+ 00′ 19″