Wednesday July 4th, 2012

Stage 4Abbeville / Rouen

Start 12h25 GMT 2+

Greipel finishes off a wonderful team effort

Stage summary04.07.2012Stage 4- Abbeville / Rouen

Once the escape of the day go reached an advantage of almost nine minutes the Lotto-Belisol team moved up to the front of the peloton and began to consider the sprint that was expected in Rouen. Although it was the fourth longest stage of the 2012 Tour de France, from Abbeville to Rouen, the real action came in the final three kilometers. That's when the jostling for position started in earnest and the lead-out trains started to form. Up near the head of the peloton, however, a touch of wheels at the speed that's required to hold off any ambitious attack can be treacherous; alas, that's just what happened. Robbie Hunter, slipped and thudded down onto the road and, right beside him, Mark Cavendish couldn't save himself. He too was taken out of the sprint equation.
Up ahead, Lotto-Belisol finished off what they started early in the stage. With four from the Belgian team at the head of the peloton leading in to the final kilometer André Greipel was delivered to perfection. Greg Henderson was the last man ahead of him and, once the New Zealander peeled off, the German simply drag raced the others to the line. No one could match is pace and the veteran sprinter earned his second success in the Tour de France...

The progress report
The 214.5km fourth stage of the 99th Tour de France – from Abbeville to Rouen – started at 12.22pm. There were 195 riders at the sign on with Tjallingii (RAB) the non-starter, because of a broken him sustained in a crash in stage three. The race featured four hills, all of them cat-4: they were Mont Huon (at 38km), Dieppe (at 69km), Pourville-sur-Mer (at 74km) and Toussaint (at 143km). The intermediate sprint was in Fécamp at 140km, just before the riders left the coast and aimed inland towards Rouen. The weather was warm with temperatures in the mid to high 20s (Celsius) and there was barely a breeze early in the day.

Three in the escape of stage four
As soon as racing began Yukiya Arashiro (EUC) attacked. He was joined by Moncoutie (COF) and Delaplace (SAU) and the peloton was happy to let them go: by the 8km mark, they had an advantage of 5'00”. The best on GC after three stages was the Japanese rider who began the day ranked 54th overall, 2'03” behind Cancellara. The advantage grew quickly and by 12km the three were ahead by 7'20”. The average speed for the first hour was 37.6km/h. The maximum advantage was 8'40” (around 20km) and then Lotto-Belisol worked with RadioShack to limit the gains of Arashiro's break. After the second climb, won by Delaplace, Orica-GreenEdge sent Langeveld up to the front to assist with the pace setting. The bunch was behind by 7'00” at the 69km mark.
Moncoutie collected another point at the third hill and put himself into equal-second place in the climbing classification. The average speed for the second hour was 37.7km/h. The escapees were kept in check and their advantage steadily dropped to 5'40” after three hours of racing. The average for the third hour was 37.4km/h.

Arashiro takes 20 points in Fecamp
The instigator of the escape, Arashiro led Delaplace and Moncoutie over the line to take the 20 points for first at the intermediate sprint. When the peloton was 5km from the Fecamp, it was 7'05” behind; at the site of the sprint – when Cavendish (SKY) beat Goss (OGE), Renshaw (RAB) and Sagan (LIQ) for the points for fourth place – the deficit to the escapees was 6'05”. Delaplace led Moncoutie over the line of the fourth climb without any challenge. With 60km to go, the peloton was led by riders from four teams: RadioShack, Orica, Lotto and FDJ and was 4'50” behind the escape. Nibali (LIQ) was caught up in a crash with 45km to go but he quickly remounted and chased down the peloton with the help of three team-mates.

Setting up the sprint
With 20km to go, the peloton was just 1'35” behind Arashiro's trio; with 15km to to, 50”... and the escape was all over at 8.5km to go. There were a few counter-attacks involving the likes of Dumoulin (COF), Pineau (OPQ) and even Gilbert (BMC) but they never gained any ground. Lotto-Belisol controlled the final few kilometers along with some Orica-GreenEdge riders. Just as the true lead-outs started to form, with 3km to go, there was some jostling for position and 2.6km from the line there was a crash that took out the winner of stage two, Mark Cavendish. It appeared as though it was Hunter (GRS) who touched wheels and landed heavily on the tarmac. It caused a ricochet effect and numerous riders were taken out. All of them will be given the same time as the winner as the incident happened inside the final three kilometers.

Greipel gains his second Tour stage win
Most of the favorites – with the notable exception of Cavendish – were still in the hunt for the stage win and Lotto-Belisol had four riders at the front going into the final turn. Petacchi (LAM) and Veelers (ARG) where on the wheel of Greipel but, neither had the speed to get around the German who claimed his second victory in the Tour after his success in Carmaux last year.
Cancellara finished in 119th but with the same time as the winner. He will wear the yellow jersey in stage five.

Stage 4 Abbeville / Abbeville

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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