- The race 2011
- All about the race
The BMC team can celebrate its first stage win in the Tour de France. The top 10 in stage four is: 1. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC - 172.5km in 4h11’39" 2. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS - at same time 3. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) AST - at same time 4. Rigoberto Uran (COL) SKY - at same time 5. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) OLO - at same time 6. Thor Hushovd (NOR) GRM - at same time 7. Frank Schleck (LUX) LEO - at same time 8. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS - at same time 9. Jurgen van den Broeck (BEL) OLO - at same time 10. Andreas Kloden (GER) RSH - at same time
This is the second time that Cadel Evans has won a stage of the Tour - but the first time that he’ll go to the podium to receive the applause. He won the 13th stage of the 2007 Tour (retrospectively) but that was a time trial in which Vinokourov was originally the fastest... before disqualification.
Hushovd has finished sixth and he’ll keep the yellow jersey after finishing wiht the same time as Evans.
Evans is ahead of Contador and the pair will only be separated by a photo finish. Evans saluted the win. He won by a few centimeters...!
Now it’s Jurgen van den Broeck at the front. Evans has swung over to allow the Belgian to speed ahead. Now it’s up to Gilbert to respond. Contador is right on the wheel of the winner of stage one.
Will Evans take the yellow jersey today? Hushovd can be seen near the front of the bunch and it seems as though the Norwegian will be able to follow the Australian.
The Omega team has numbers at the front but now Contador is starting to dance. He has drawn Gilbert into action...
Contador is right on the wheel of the rider in the spotted top... the GC riders are now setting themselves up for a might surge up the Mur-de-Bretagne...
There are less than 3km to go in the stage and Hincapie is on the front with Gesink (RAB) right on his wheel. Gilbert is following the Dutchman and the uphill sprint is about to commence...
Hushovd is just behind Contador who is riding in about 10th position...
The BMC team has three at the front of the stage now. They have reeled in the five escapees and now it’s time for the likes of Evans (BMC) and Gilbert (OLO) to shine...
The winner of yesterday’s stage has also been spat out the back of the pack with 4.5km to go.
The rider who finished fifth yesterday, Cavendish (THR) has just been dropped by the peloton that is now just 10" behind the five stage leaders.
The chasing trio have caught the attacking pair and there are five riders at the front of the stage again. There are only 5km to go in the 4th stage and the peloton is 25" behind the escapees that began their move at the 9km mark.
Izagirre and Hoogerland are eight seconds ahead of Roy, Kadri and Ervitti.
Izagirre and Hoogerland have dropped the three other stage leaders thanks to an attack 7.8km from the finish. The peloton is only 35" behind this pair.
Marcus Burghardt has just put in a strong turn at the front of the bunch. He and Cancellara are the guys doing the work that’s ruining the advantage of Erviti’s quintet that’s now just 50" ahead.
The escape group has passed under the 10km to go sign. They are one minute ahead of the peloton and there have been no attacks in the lead group today - with the exception of the surge by Hoogerland to take the climbing point at the 79km mark.
Although Omega is all over the front of the peloton, the quadruple time trial world champion is now moving up on the left side of the road and, nestled right on his wheel is the team leader Andy Schleck. Could the Leopards be preparing to pounce on this stage which is ideal for the ’Ardennes’ Classics men?
The rider who finished second yesterday, Roman Feillu has just stopped to change bikes. He is now speeding back to the peloton which is being led by Omega again. All eight remaining riders in the team of Philippe Gilbert are at the front right now and they are closing in on the escape group that’s now 1’05" ahead.
For the moment it’s dry and there’s even a little bit of sun shining at the finish right now. But the roads on the final climb are still wet...
There are about 17km to go in the stage and the latest check has the peloton 1’25" behind Erviti’s group of five.
The final ascent has been talked up a lot in the lead-up to this fourth stage. The Mûr-de-Bretagne is a steep one but it’s not terribly long. A little before the 3km to go mark, there’s a sharp ascent that is about 300 meters long and then comes a short descent before the final uphill finishing straight that includes a 2km long ascent with an average gradient of 6.9 per cent. The finish line comes after a flat stretch of about 500m after the top of the climb.
Evans has wasted no time in returning to the peloton after the recent incident. If it was a flat tire, it was arguably the fastest change of the day! Bravo to the BMC team that has been most vigilant today.
Cadel Evans has had to stop to get some mechanical assistance. He’s quickly back on his bike and is being helped return to the peloton by two team-mates.
There has been a spate of punctures in the wet today. The latest to get a flat tire (rear) is Matteo Tosatto of the Saxo Bank team. He’s going to have a really hard chase as the pace of the peloton is now very fast thanks to turns at the front by Zabriskie (GRM) as well as the usual suspects from Omega Pharma.
As it passed under the 25km to go sign, the peloton is 1’57" behind the leading quintet.
Jonathan Vaughters has recently offered an interview about what he expects from his riders in the final 25km of the stage. "We’ll share the workload with Omega Pharma," said the manager of the Garmin team. "This will make things better for Thor and David [Millar] but we must be realistic and understand that Gilbert is the favorite. The intention, however, is to defend the yellow jersey."
With 30km to go in the fourth stage, let’s remind ourselves of who the escapees who burst into the lead at the nine kilometer mark are:
Jeremy Roy (FDJ) instigated the move. He earned 17 points at the intermediate sprint (2nd) and is the most experienced at the Tour of the five in the lead group.
Imanol Erviti (MOV) was the best placed of the escapees after three stages and had been the virtual leader of the Tour for much of the stage.
Gorka Izagirre (EUS) has punctured twice but worked hard to rejoin the lead group both times...
Blel Kadri (ALM) has come off good form that included a fifth place in the recent Criterium du Dauphine prologue...
Johnny Hoogerland (VCD) who won both the intermediate sprint and the climbing point for his efforts in the escape today.
The three Germans from the Omega Pharma-Lotto team are at the front of the peloton: Sieberg, Greipel and Lang - the latter of whom has been at the front almost for the duration of the stage...
The winner of the points race at the Athens Olympics, Mikhail Ignatiev has recent suffered a flat front tire. He is being serviced by his Katusha team car now and will soon rejoin the peloton. LeTour.fr recently heard from the winner of the sprint and keirin gold medals at the 2004 Olympics, Ryan Bayley, who has nominated Philippe Gilbert for the win today... The poll on LeTour.fr asks who people believe will be most likely to challenge the Belgian champion for the win in stage four and, at the moment, the most votes have gone to Bayley’s compatriot Cadel Evans.
The escapees continue to share the workload well up front but the pace of the peloton is now very quick thanks to a tailwind at the 137km mark.
The brief bout by Liquigas at the front of the peloton is over. Now Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC have taken over the pace setting at the same time that Evans has returned to the team car to get some lube on his chain... He has Santaromita alongside to help him return to the peloton once the mechanic has done his job.
There are now three riders from the Liquigas team at the front of the peloton that is 2’15" behind at the 108km mark. Just behind the Italian squad are Leopard-Trek recruits...
One of the Spaniards on the Rabobank team, Luis Leon Sanchez has just copped a flat rear tire.
The leaders are 2’00" ahead of the peloton and currently riding on wet roads. For the moment, the rain is abating at the finish but it has been wet at Mûr-de-Bretagne for most of the day...
The average speed for the third hour is 41.2km/h. The average since the start of the fourth stage of the Tour is 39.8km/h.
In the last 10 minutes the Omega Pharma-Lotto team has been on the front of the peloton for 64 per cent of the time. The BMC team has spent 34 per cent of the last 10 minutes in the wind... and Movistar riders have led for two per cent...
There are now four men in the lead of the stage as the Euskatel rider in the escape has just punctured for a second time today.
After his flat tire, Wiggins has rejoined the peloton which is 2’20" behind the five escapees. The British champion has explained that, since his victorious ride(s) on the velodrome of the Beijing Olympics he has lost 13kg! He was fourth in the 2009 Tour de France and is currently ranked 10th overall after three stages of the 2011 race.
“I’ll try again tomorrow," said the rider who finished third yesterday, Jose Joaquin Rojas. He was fourth in stage one and he wears the green jersey today. "It’s a hard finish and Gilbert seems almost unbeatable, but we’ll fight for it. Taking green into Paris? Why not; if I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t be contesting it. I’ve shown I’m at the level of the best, and will fight for it until the very last day."
The leader of the Sky team has just stopped to get a new back wheel after a flat tire. Wiggins is back on the bike and racing to rejoin the peloton. He has three team-mates with him...
“The team has been fantastic and I thank each of my team-mates," said the defending champion of the Tour, Alberto Contador after stage three yesterday. "They protected me every single kilometer through the stage... We were very cautious because on both sides of the road there was a cheering crowd with children, chairs, armchair which is the same sight as in the big mountains but this is going on while we do 70 km/h. "Tomorrow’s final is pretty complicated with a lot of tension, because the wall of Brittany is a pretty tough slope and a great objective for a rider like Gilbert.”
When LeTour.fr spoke with Richie Porte earlier today, we asked: is there a temptation for him to have a crack and bring back some time on the other GC guys? “Of course if the opportunity arises, then why not? He may as well have a shot but there’s been no talk of it in the team so far today," said the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider. "It would be nice if he did a repeat of the stage to Tropea in the Giro when he finished second [to Oscar Gatto] and with Alberto, you never know what he’s capable of.”
Many believe that the 2009 world champion, Cadel Evans, could take the yellow jersey at the end of today’s stage. He writes a blog on a personal website and yesterday evening he posted a commentary on the stage along with a paragraph on his expectations for today. "Congratulations to Garmin," he wrote about Farrar’s victory. "How nice to see the yellow jersey leading the sprint - beautiful! "Tomorrow will be different, a short sharp climb at the finish might (hopefully) calm a few anxious risk-taking riders, which might help to calm also the anxiety of the group. Of course Phil will be the man to beat on that finish."
Saxo Bank’s Richie Porte won the youth classification in the first Grand Tour he contested, the Giro d’Italia in 2010. We asked him this morning, how the Tour compares with the Giro. “This is a big race and so is the Giro but at the Tour everything is on a larger scale… even the press conference was more stressful. But then on the roads of all the Grand Tours it’s stressful. The first Giro I did last year, it was crazy at the start in Holland – everyone wants to make the break, everyone is fighting for wheels, trying to get in the right position but it’s enjoyable too. “Yesterday was fast but it was much safer than stage one. It was intense up over the bridge in Saint-Nazaire, that was probably the most scary part.”
Richie Porte (SBS) spoke to LeTour.fr before the stage start and explained the mood in his team after three days. “I’m feeling good. It’s a pretty dismal day or weather and I’d rather it not be wet but that’s life. “It’s pretty obvious what we’ve got to do today: stay out of trouble. That’s the main goal. But there’s some good news – it’s pouring rain and Alberto really likes that. He’s happy." When he was told that the finish line is about 500 meters after the final climb, he said, “Oh, is it really? I didn’t know that. I didn’t do a recon of this stage. I’m not sure if Alberto has either but our director knows it pretty well.”
The first 15 over the line in Spezet are: 1. Hoogerland (VCD) 20pts 2. Roy (FDJ) 17pts 3. Kadri (ALM) 15pts 4. Izagirre (EUS) 13pts 5. Erviti (MOV) 11pts 6. Farrar (GRM) 10pts - at 2’30" 7. Rojas (MOV) 9pts 8. Bozic (VCD) 8pts 9. Cavendish (THR) 7pts 10. Galimzyanov (KAT) 6pts 11. Goss (THR) 5pts 12. Engoulvent (SAU) 4pts 13. Gilbert (OLO) 3pts 14. Greipel (OLO) 2pts 15. Oss (LIQ) 1pt
The peloton has cross the line for the intermediate sprint with Farrar beating Rojas for the 10 points of sixth place.
There are four riders from the Movistar team at the front of the peloton, incuding the green jersey Rojas. They are less than 1km from the intermediate sprint...
The first five riders have contested the sprint in Spezet. The 20 points were won by The top five at the intermediate sprint today was: 1. Hoogerland (VCD) 20pts 2. Roy (FDJ) 17pts 3. Kadri (ALM) 15pts 4. Izagirre (EUS) 13pts 5. Erviti (MOV) 11pts
The pace of the peloton has picked up recently thanks in part to Movistar riders going to the front to set Rojas up for the intermediate sprint and in part because the wind is now coming from behind the bunch.
The five escapees are at the 89km mark. They have an advantage of 3’00" and are 3km from the intermediate sprint at the same time that the peloton is 5km from Spezet.
The five leaders are about 3’00" ahead of the peloton. Up front the roads are wet again but, for the moment, the bunch is on dry roads. Erviti has, in fact, maintained his position in the escape group.
Roy, Izagirre, Kadri and Hoogerland are now 10km from the intermediate sprint in Spézet. It seems that Erviti has dropped out of the lead group but we await confirmation of this.
The bunch has arrived at the top of the first climb today. It is 3’20" behind Erviti’s quintet.
After collecting the point for the cote de Laz, Hoogerland has eased off the pace and waited for Roy, Izgirre, Kadri and Erviti. Once again, there are five men in the lead group.
Hoogerland is now equal on points with Gilbert (OLO) and Delage (FDJ). All these riders have one point in the climbing classification.
The average speed for the second hour of stage four is 36.5km/h. The average for the first two hours combined is 39.1km/h.
It’s like he sensed that we were talking about him on LeTour.fr... a moment after posting some of his results, Johnny Hoogerland has attacked the lead group. There was no reaction from the four others and the Dutchman now leads the stage on his own.
As a 24-year-old one of the riders in the lead group today, Johnny Hoogerland, won a stage of the Ruben Granitier Breton (Tour of Brittany) in 2004. In that second stage, another rider who has a successful record in this part of France - Simon Gerrans, the winner of the GP Plouay in 2009 - was fourth.
The leaders have around 96km to go and, for the first time today, they are riding on dry roads. The rain has abated... but don’t count on it staying dry for long as it’s still very overcast in Brittany.
This is the first time that Johnny Hoogerland has contested the Tour de France but he’s done the Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia before. He was 12th overall in his first Grand Tour (the 2009) Vuelta. He’s one of five riders who have been at the front of the stage since the 9km mark. The escape was instigated by Roy (FDJ) who was also in the escape in stage one.
“I’ll give it a good crack, that’s for sure," said the winner of this year’s Milan-San Remo, Matt Goss, earlier today. "I’ll try and stay up front and with Tony and Peter Velits, it’s going to be good for us and I’ll position myself near those guys and if I’m in with a shot at the finish, I’ll try and do something. “The first day was one that suited me a bit better but unfortunately I was laying on the ground with a bit of two kilometers to go. There’s a bit of skin off my elbow and knee but I’m fine. In general there’s nothing too bad, I came out of the crashes pretty good actually." He is one of two Tasmanian riders, along with Richie Porte (SBS) who is making his debut in the race this year.
Each day the official site asks readers a question about the race. Today the poll is:
Who is Philippe Gilbert’s main rivals on the Mûr-de-Bretagne...
Thomas Voeckler. Be sure to click the link on LeTour.fr and let us know what you think...
“Our goals today don’t necessarily including taking the yellow jersey or winning the stage,” said the DS of the BMC team, John Lelangue recently. “If this happens, then that’s good but for me the most important thing is not to lose time and, if possible, actually put some distance between Cadel and his rivals. This is why we’ve got some guys at the front of the peloton right now, especially in the difficult conditions we’re experiencing today. It’s important that everyone from our team arrives at the foot of the Mur-de-Bretagne safely and, once there, they know what to do.”
After getting a new wheel from his team car, Gorka Izagirre is back with the lead group.
Izagirre of the Euskaltel team is no longer in the lead group. He has had a puncture and was forced out of the escape... The men who remain up front are: Roy (FDJ), Erviti (MOV), Hoogerland (VCD) and Kadri (ALM).
There are numerous riders dropping behind the peloton to either deposit their wet weather gear in the team car or retrieve some... depending on how they’re coping with the conditions. One of the favorite calls for Sebastien Piquet who is the voice of Radio Tour is: "RadioShack at the back of the pack..." it’s a common theme of the call each day.
There is no one team in particular leading the pursuit but the deficit of the peloton continues to drop. The last check has the escapees 2’30" ahead. Hovering around the front of the bunch are six riders from the Leopard-Trek team including Joost Posthuma, Frank and Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara...
The maximum gain of the escapees today was 4’55" at the 24km mark. After an hour and a half of racing, the Erviti group is now 2’50" ahead of the bunch that continues to be led by riders from Gilbert’s team.
There are a number of former mountain bike riders in the peloton of the 2011 Tour de France. Cadel Evans was a two-time winner of the MTB World Cup series before turning his attention to road racing. He is currently ranked third overall and is one of the favorites for the stage today. Jean-Christophe Peraud (ALM) makes his Tour debut this year and he wears the significant dossard "108". He has been a pro on the road for a couple of years now but this is is first season with the AG2R team. Perhaps it’s this that is prompting the editor of a mountain bike magazine in Australia, Chris Southwood, to tune in to the live coverage on LeTour.fr... or maybe it’s just the fact that the Tour appeals to all kinds of sports fans.
One of the big pre-Tour races is the Criterium du Dauphine, a one-week event that is contested each June. This year the prologue of that race was in St-Jean-de-Maurienne and was a 5.4km test. It was won by Lars Boom with Vinokourov taking second, Wiggins third, Degenkolb fourth... and one of today’s escapees, Blel Kadri, fifth.
While Erviti has won two Vuelta stages in the past, none of his group - that escaped the peloton at the 9km mark of today’s stage - has previously won a stage of the Tour de France. Roy (FDJ) was second in a stage in the 19th stage of the 2008 edition (behind Sylvain Chavanel).
The peloton has been riding in wet conditions for the first hour and 20 minutes of racing in stage four. Lang is at the front of the peloton that’s now 3’50" behind the escapees.
There are five teams represented at the front of the peloton and no one seems particularly interested in chasing down the five escapees. BMC has Burghardt up front, Omega Pharma-Lotto has Lang, and there are also riders from Leopard-Trek and Movistar tapping out the tempo.
There are now 197 riders in the race. Jurgen van de Walle (OLO) has just quit the Tour.
A favorite today is Philippe Gilbert who celebrates his 29th birthday today. Looking through the archives it’s possible to find other riders who have enjoyed success at the Tour de France on their birthdays. Erik Zabel, for example, claimed the first of his 12 Tour stages in 1995... on his 25th birthday.
The average speed for the first hour of stage four is 41.7km/h.
Two teams are at the front of the peloton that’s now 3’20" behind the five escapees. Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC are sharing the chasing duties as both their leaders - Gilbert and Evans, respectively - are expected to fair well in the finale today. Evans was second to Gilbert on day one and then the Australian’s BMC team finished second again in stage two. The 34-year-old has worn the yellow jersey at the Tour de France for six days in the past: five days in 2008 when he led Frank Schleck by just one second in the GC, and for one day last year... before he suffered a collapse on the ascent of the col de la Madeleine.Gilbert has worn the yellow jersey for just one day... so far - the TTT of stage two.
The rider who is currently the virtual leader of the Tour, Imanol Erviti, turned professional in 2005. This is his second start in the Tour but the 27-year-old has experience success in a Grand Tour before. He’s won two stages of the Vuelta a España - one each in 2008 and 2010.
“Today is going to be a tough day," said Matt Goss this morning when contacted by LeTour.fr. "There’s really a lot of up and down in the final. There could be a bit of wind but we are in the forest a bit so it might not be too bad but I think that Gilbert is going to be pretty hard to beat. “We did some reconnaissance over the final climb a few weeks ago and we also checked out the last 120km and we know it’s going to be quite tough. Honestly, I think it’ll be more for guys like Gilbert, or Cadel again… I don’t think that even Thor is going to be quite as close to the front as he was yesterday. It’ll be more of a day for those Ardennes Classics riders.”
At the 24km mark, the escapees were 4’55" ahead but that advantage has been reduced to 3’40" with BMC the squad at the front of the peloton.
LeTour.fr contacted the team manager of Cofidis before the stage to get some news on one of yesterday’s crash victims, Samuel Dumoulin. “He did a somersault when he crashed and landed on his neck,” said Didier Rous. “We had to treat him in the evening and used cryotherapy. His injuries are a nuisance but he’s much better today and shouldn’t be too bothered. We would like a little bit of luck now because we’ve had a few set-backs to date. “Today we will be careful with the escape because it can be very dangerous. There are narrow roads at the end and the weather can cause some problems. “Gilbert certainly seems unbeatable but we can work with what we have… at the finish we hope that Samuel can have a go, or why not Taaramae or Tony Gallopin?”
The Erviti quintet is now 4’55" ahead of the peloton that has just passed the 24km mark.
LeTour.fr contacted the winner of last year’s GP Plouay, Matt Goss, before the start of the stage to get his thoughts on the race so far and also question him about the HTC team’s plans for the finish. “Yesterday was okay," said the 24-year-old Tasmanian. "The vibe on the bus afterwards was relatively upbeat. The team all stayed together well but we just got caught out with a few little attacks that put us at the front a bit earlier than what we would have liked but there are plenty more stages between now and Paris – before the end I’m pretty confident we’ll pick up some wins."
Erviti is the virtual leader of the Tour de France. His escape group is now 3’55" ahead of the peloton that’s just passed the 19km mark.
The advantage of the escape is 2’15". They are about to arrive in Plouay which was the town that hosted the world championships in 2000 when Romans Vainsteins won the rainbow jersey in the road race. Plouay also host a major race every August and there are four former winners in the peloton today: George Hincapie (BMC), Thomas Voeckler (EUR), Simon Gerrans (SKY) and Matt Goss (THR).
Of today’s selection of five escapees, the best on GC is again the Movistar representative. They are 1’45" ahead of the peloton at the 11km mark.
The riders in the move are:
Imanol Erviti (ESP) MOV - 111th overall (at 2’58")
Johnny Hoogerland (NED) VCD - 121st overall (at 3’12")
Jeremy Roy (FRA) FDJ - 124th overall (at 3’13")
Gorka Izagirre (ESP) EUS - 181st overall (at 7’23")
Blel Kadri (FRA) ALM - 193rd overall (at 10’59")
The peloton appears content with the selection of five who escaped at the 9km mark. Some riders in the bunch are stopping to answer the call of nature and the advantage has already grown to 1’00".
There are a number of riders with a 25 second advantage on the peloton at the 9km mark. They are: Izagirre (EUS), Ervitti (MOV), Kadri (ALM), Roy (FDJ) and Hoggerland (VCD). The man who instigated the move was Roy.
Today is also the birthday for two riders who contested the Tour de France not so long ago. Alex Zülle, the Swiss who finished second overall in the 1999 Tour, turns 43. And Yvon Ledanois, one of the directeurs sportif of the Movistar team, is 42.
The peloton is now at the 6km mark and none of the early escape attempts have succeeded.
There have been a number of flat tires already today. An Omega Pharma-Lotto rider, Greipel, is the latest to wait for a team car for a service.
Today is the 29th birthday for the winner of the opening stage of the 2011 Tour de France, Philippe Gilbert of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team.
The bunch has just arrived at the 2km mark and, so far, no escapes have been successful.
The riders are through the neutral zone, Christian Prudhomme has waved the white flag from the lead car and declared a start to racing in stage four. The start time was at 1.09pm. There was an immediate attack as well as a flat front tire for a Quickstep rider... There are 198 riders still in the race.
After three days of fine weather, the roads of the Tour are wet and already taking their toll. There has been a crash in the neutral zone but the riders involved are back up, on their bikes and riding again.
Geraint Thomas will wear the white jersey for the third day in a row. He is the best ranked of the young riders, but his team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen is on the same time as the Welshman. Tejay van Garderen is third in this classification while another HTC Tour debutant, Matt Goss, is ranked fourth also only one second behind Thomas in the overall standings.
There are only two riders with points in the climbing classification: the winner of stage one, Philippe Gilbert (OLO), and one of the five who were in the break yesterday, Mickael Delage (FDJ). The Belgian will wear the polka-dot jersey today because he is ranked higher than the Frenchman in general classification. They are 29th and 98th respectively. Delage has a red race number as he was voted the winner of the ‘Fighting Spirit’ award in the stage to Redon.
The third place finisher in stage three, José Joaquin Rojas (MOV) is wearing the Tour’s green jersey for the first time in his career. The Spaniard was fourth in stage one and seventh in the intermediate sprint yesterday. He has a tally of 65 points in the sprinters classification, seven more than yesterday’s stage winner Tyler Farrar (GRM). Philippe Gilbert (OLO) is ranked third with 52 points, and the leader of the general classification Thor Hushovd is fourth in the category that he’s won twice at the Tour, with 50 points.
The rainbow stripes of the world champion’s jersey will be replaced by the maillot jaune for the second day in a row. There was no change to the top order of the general classification after the third stage of the 2011 Tour de France and Thor Hushovd (GRM) continues to lead the overall standings with the same time as his team-mate David Millar. The former world champion – and leader of GC for a day last year – Cadel Evans is ranked third, one second behind the Norwegian Garmin-Cervélo duo.
The peloton is currently making its way through the 9.3km neutral zone and one the way to the site of the start proper. Rain is falling on the route of the fourth stage. Tjallingi (RAB) has just punctured and is being serviced by his mechanic right now.
The 172.5km fourth stage of the 2011 Tour de France, from Lorient on the coast to Mûr-de-Bretagne in the middle of Brittany, is about to start. The stage features two categorized climbs, the cote de Laz (cat-4 at 79km) and the final ascent, the first cat-3 of the 98th Tour. The intermediate sprint was in Spézet at 92.5km.
Bright sunshine has been replaced by clouds, warm conditions have turned cool, and rain is falling in Lorient before the start of the fourth stage of the 98th Tour de France. The riders face a 172.5km journey around Brittany before finishing atop the Mûr-de-Bretagne, the first category-three ascent of the 2011 race. This is a day that many believe will suit the winner of stage one Philippe Gilbert who has raced in the yellow and green jerseys already this year and today he’s going to wear the polka-dot top as leader of the climbing classification. The start is at 12.50pm, with a 9.3km neutral zone before the flag will fall to signal the beginning of racing. Live coverage will commence shortly.