photo credits @ Le Tour
Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was back to his winning ways today, claiming stage 4 of the Tour de France by the narrowest of margins, after fending off a rapidly-closing Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) in a tight uphill sprint to the finish in Limoges.
Meanwhile, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) retained his grip on the overall race lead, after finishing third in today’s stage, while also regaining the green jersey from Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
The day’s early breakaway group containing Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) and Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon18), went on to build up a maximum advantage of six minutes over the peloton.
However, the last survivors of the breakaway group, Naesen and Irizar, were eventually reined in by the peloton during last 7 kilometers, where teams struggled to avoid debris in the roadway during the final stretch into Limoges.
As a result, Etixx-QuickStep was force to make its way back into contention in order to move Kittel into position to contest the sprint.
From there, Sagan was first to open up his sprint, while Kittel managed to make his up the middle of the road past the yellow jersey wearer.
On the left however, came a bounding Coquard, who was throwing his bike from side-to-side in an attempt to get every bit of speed.
But, despite a touch of elbows during the closing 50 meters, nothing prevented Kittel from maintaining the pace that he needed to seize the stage victory by the slimmest of margins.
Top 10 Finishers
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step 5:28:30
2 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
4 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
6 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
7 Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo – Vital Concept
8 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange
General classification after stage 4
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 20:03:02
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:12
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:14
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:18
5 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange
6 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:35
7 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:59
8 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie 0:01:15
9 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling 0:01:40
10 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 0:01:43
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