Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Demare Wins Stage Four in Vittel

Arnaud Démare stormed to victory in stage 4 of the 104th Tour de France as he fended off Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff in a bunch gallop in Vittel. Two crashes in the last kilometer prevented some sprinters from contesting the victory. Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey for the fourth consecutive day ahead of the first summit finish at La Planche des belles filles.

195 riders took the start of stage 4 in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxemburg. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) attacked from the gun and there was no reaction from the peloton. He got a 13.15 advantage at km 59 before Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors) started setting the pace of the peloton after leaving the Team Sky of race leader Geraint Thomas regulating a slow tempo for the first hour of racing.

French teams FDJ with Arthur Vichot and Cofidis with Nicolas Edet, racing for their respective sprinter Arnaud Démare and Nacer Bouhanni, helped the two Belgian squads from half way into the stage. The gap was down to six minutes with 90km to go. At the intermediate sprint of Goviller with 50km to go, the deficit of the peloton was 2.40 and the fastest man was Démare who outsprinted Peter Sagan, André Greipel and Marcel Kittel. Van Keirsbulck's advantage was down to two minutes when he scored the only King of the Mountains up for grabs at the col des Trois-Fontaines 37km away from the finish in Vittel. Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Drapac) remained in the polka dot jersey, becoming the first American to do so since Greg LeMond (in 1986), Tejay van Garderen (in 2011) and Taylor Phinney (yesterday) lost it after one day.

Van Keirsbulck was reined with 16.5km to go after 191 kilometers of a solo breakaway. He received the price of the most aggressive rider of the day. A crash with one kilometer to go stopped Marcel Kittel. Démare made the right move to overtake Alexander Kristoff while Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish clashed and the Brit went down heavily. Démare is the first Frenchman to win a bunch sprint of the Tour de France since Jimmy Casper in Strasbourg in 2006. The last French stage winner wearing the blue-white-red jersey of French champion was Thomas Voeckler in Bagnères-de-Luchon in 2010 Luchon. 

Démare also took the green jersey, which no Frenchman did since Sylvain Chavanel, also in 2010. Geraint Thomas came home safely to retain the yellow jersey.

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