Another notch in Marcel Kittel's belt. The best sprinter in the world claimed his third win in four stages at this year's Tour de France, but his triumph opposite Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille was much more difficult than the previous ones. The Giant-Shimano colossus failed to anticipate Alexander Kristoff's burst of raw power and had to squeeze every ounce of power he had to overtake the Norwegian, taking a Northern-flavoured stage which saw Chris Froome take a tumble at the very beginning....read more
Involved in a long break with Spaniard Luis Mate then on his own, Thomas Voeckler again shone on a Tour de France. And above all, he enjoyed himself.read more
Thomas Voeckler again stepped into the limelight of the Tour de France, this time with a long breakaway first with Spain's Luis Maté and then solo. But, most importantly, he had lots of fun.read more
"It was not a long stage but it was fast and very nervous. We struggled to stay in the front. I tried to take Kristoff's wheel but it was hard. All the time I was only thinking about the line. I could see the finish line and I really gave everything I had today, but it was very difficult. We did not underestimate Kristoff, we always knew he was a very dangerous guy as he showed today. Today we saw that we were not unbeatable. We must still focus on our race and our preparation. It was tough...read more
The Tour de France is back on its home turf after an English adventure which provided a first glimpse of the state of affairs, especially in the sprinter department. The stage to Lille-Métropole should see the fast men of the peloton go head-to-head on the finishing straight in front of Stade Pierre-Mauroy. Marcel Kittel's dominance in the first two mass sprints, in Harrogate and London, was such that derailing the German juggernaut seems almost impossible. After his crash course in racing at...read more
The of the town08.07.2014
They were a concern long before the Grand Depart, but on the eve of stage 5, the cobbles between Ypres and Arenberg were again the talk of the Village Depart on Tuesday...read more
How was the first time ?08.07.2014
A three-times Czech time-trial champion, Jan Barta rode one of his longest efforts in the third stage of the Tour de France between Cambridge and London...read more
The English detour of the Tour is over. The riders are back on French soil for stage 4 from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille Métropole. It's a flattish stage, dedicated to the sprinters who will have another scenic location for speeding. After rushing on The Mall, they'll try to score a goal in front of the recently built Pierre-Mauroy stadium. Marcel Kittel is a natural favorite for a third victory but the locals will mostly cheer for Arnaud Démare. The young French champion hails from the...read more
Focus on a team07.07.2014
Giant Shimano could not dream of a better start to their Tour de France...read more
Newsflashes (Local time)
|17:41||Top 5 of the stage|
The top 5 of today's stage:
1. Marcel Kittel (GIA)
2. Alexander Kristoff (KAT)
3. Arnaud Démare (FDJ)
4. Peter Sagan (CAN)
5. Bryan Coquard (EUC)
|17:40||It's a hat-trick for Kittel|
Marcel Kittel barely managed to take his third stage ahead of Alexander Kristoff (KAT) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ).
Giant-Shimano and Katusha take over at the front. Marcel Kittel is well positioned, with Peter Sagan on his wheel.
|17:35||The Quick Step train steams ahead|
Alessandro Petacchi's driving the OPQS train as if Mark Cavendish were never gone, but Giant-Shimano's inching closer and the Europcars are organising.
|17:33||5 km to go|
Sebastian Langeveld is in charge of affairs for Garmin-Sharp, while Omega Pharma-Quick Step continues to work for Mark Renshaw.
|17:31||Johan Vansummeren at the front|
Johan Vansummeren (GRS) is leading the pack. Is the former Paris-Roubaix winner testing his legs ahead of tomorrow's cobblestone stage?
|17:29||Martin powers ahead|
Tony Martin went slightly off the front as he drove the Omega Pharma-Quick Step train, but he quickly went back into the fold.
|17:27||10 km to go|
...and it's still Saxo-Tinkoff at the front, while the sprint trains start to get organised just behind them.
|17:24||Voeckler takes the Combativity Prize|
The Antargaz Combativity Prize's just been awarded to Thomas Voeckler.
|17:22||Saxo-Tinkoff hits the front|
Alberto Contador's teammates are leading the pack together with Garmin-Sharp. The plethora of falls has scared the favourites into riding at the front.
Peter Sagan (CAN) is 50 metres behind the peloton after falling together with teammate Ed King.
The peloton's gobbled up Voeckler with 16 km to go.
|17:17||It's almost over for Voeckler|
Thomas Voeckler's pedalling through Lomme, in the outskirts of Lille, with just nine seconds over the peloton. Giant-Shimano, Saxo-Tinkoff and Omega Pharma-Quick Step are leading the chase.
|17:14||20 km to go|
Thomas Voeckler holds a measly 16-second lead over the peloton.
|17:12||Henderson drops out|
The Kiwi's been forced to withdraw from the race following a crash which also involved teammates Lars Bak and Bart de Clercq.
|17:09||Giant-Shimano in full pursuit|
The triple Lotto-Belisol crash has left Marcel Kittel's Giant-Shimano at the front of the peloton. André Greipel's lost several wagons of his train with 25 km to go.
|17:05||Only 20 seconds left|
Thomas Voeckler's haemorrhaging time as he leaves Armentières.
|17:04||Triple Lotto crash|
Three Lotto riders have taken a tumble: Lars Bak, Bart De Clercq and the hardest hit, Greg Henderson.
|17:03||30 km to go...|
...and 30 seconds left for Thomas Voeckler.
|17:02||The race reaches Armentières|
The peloton's now in Armentières (km 133.5), a town with a special place in Tour history. Djamolidine Abdoujaparov won a stage here in 1994, the same one in which Laurent Jalabert crashed with a gendarme at full speed and suffered horrific injuries.
|16:59||The peloton kicks it up a notch|
Giant-Shimano and some favourites' teams (Sky, Saxo-Tinkoff) are now helping Lotto-Belisol, taking a sizeable bite out of Thomas Voeckler's lead (40 seconds).
|16:57||High five for Voeckler?|
At km 127, Thomas Voeckler (EUC) has a 1'20" margin on the peloton. He's already won four stages at the Tour de France: in 2009, 2010 and 2012. He's a shoo-in for the combativity prize, at any rate.
|16:50||Lotto-Belisol brings the hammer down|
The Lotto-Belisol riders are driving the pack again. Thomas Voeckler still has 1'30" (km 125).
|16:44||Voeckler on the Mont Noir|
Thomas Voeckler went over the Mont Noir, today's second category 4 climb, in first place, earning 1 point in the process. The peloton lies 1'25" back.
|16:41||Voeckler won't give up|
Thomas Voeckler's giving it his all. With just over 45 km to go, the Frenchman's nursing a 1'20" gap over the peloton.
|16:38||Terpstra hits the deck|
The OPQ rider and winner of the last Paris-Roubaix has taken a tumble. The Dutchman, one of the favoutires to won tomorrow's stage from Ypres to Arenberg, is back on his bike.
The delayed group caught up with the peloton at km 111. Thomas Voeckler (EUC) took advantage of the whole affair, pushing his lead back up to 1'10".
|16:34||OPQS playing catch-up|
Michał Kwiatkowski's Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates are slowly but steadily closing in on the peloton. The delayed group also contains the winner of yesterday's combativity prize, Jan Bárta, and three Team Sky riders.
|16:31||Maté has a flat|
After suffering a mechanical on the climb up Mont Cassel, Luis Maté (COF) has had a puncture with 55 km to go. The peloton's gobbled him up and Thomas Voeckler's now riding solo in front.
|16:28||Démare back in the main field|
Arnaud Démare (FDJ) quickly made his way back into the main field, which lies 55" ahead of the group containing Michał Kwiatkowski (OPQ), Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) and Rein Taaramäe (COF).
|16:24||The gap continues to fall|
The two men in front, Thomas Voeckler and Luis Maté, have barely half a minute left over the peloton. Meanwhile, the Rodríguez group is already losing 1'30".
|16:22||The peloton splits!|
Cannondale's oomph has ripped the peloton apart, with Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Michał Kwiatkowski (OPQ) among those caught unawares.
|16:15||Harvest time for Sagan|
Peter Sagan's third place at the intermediate sprint increased his lead at the top of the points classification by an extra 15 points. Bryan Coquard took fifth place and 11 points, enough to move up to second in this classification.
|16:12||Intermediate sprint in Cassel|
Result of the intermediate sprint in Cassel (km 92):
1. Thomas Voeckler (EUC)
Bryan Coquard (EUC) took fifth place.
|16:11||Maté suffers a mechanical|
Luis Ángel Maté was delayed by a mechanical on his way up Mont Cassel, but he quickly got assistance and rejoined his waiting breakaway companion.
|16:08||Cannondale gets fidgety|
Peter Sagan's Cannondale teammates are massing at the front of the pack in anticipation of the sprint.
|16:07||The race reaches Cassel|
The two men in front are in Cassel, where they'll contest today's intermediate sprint. Thomas Voeckler knows the town like the back of his hand. In 2011 he won a stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk, in which Mont Cassel is a regular fixture.
Could it be that Thomas Voeckler attacked to give manager Jean-René Bernaudeau a birthday present? Then again, Luis Maté may also have attacked to celebrate team leader Daniel Navarro's 31st birthday.
|16:00||Cancellara swaps his bike|
Licking his lips at the prospect of tomorrow's cobblestones, Fabian Cancellara just changed his bike for the second time as the peloton heads towards Mont Cassel.
|15:49||The pack in Arques|
The peloton is winding its way through Arques, the world capital of crystal manufacture, as a side wind continues to wear down the breakaways' gap. Thomas Voeckler (EUC) and Luis Maté (COF) have only got two minutes left on the bunch.
|15:42||The bunch in Saint-Omer|
The peloton is coursing through Saint-Omer. A stage of the 2001 Tour which started here and ended in Boulogne-sur-Mer fell to a German sprinter (Erik Zabel). Will we see more of the same today? Saint-Omer also boasts a velodrome dedicated to Jacques Anquetil.
|15:37||Where do the breakaways stand?|
Thomas Voeckler (EUC) started today's stage in 105th place, 12'35" behind Vincenzo Nibali, with Luis Maté (COF) four places further down at 14'01".
|15:35||Lotto takes the reins|
André Greipel's Lotto-Belisol has taken over from Vincenzo Nibali's Astana and Marcel Kittel's Giant-Shimano at the front of the bunch —the German champion obviously wants to make amends for the previous stages.
|15:30||100 km to go|
100 km from the finish line, the two breakaways' lead continues to evaporate: 2'45".
|15:28||The gap dwindles|
58 kilometres into today's stage, the gap between the pack and the two men in front, Thomas Voeckler (EUC) and Luis Maté (COF), has fallen back to three minutes.
|15:26||Portal: "It's okay"|
In an interview with France Télévisions, Team Sky directeur sportif Nicolas Portal had good news on Chris Froome, who fell towards the start of the stage: "It's okay, it's okay... We were scared out of our wits, like everyone else, but after talking with him, everything seems okay. He hit the tarmac hard, but everything's all right. We gave him a splint and, of course, we're taking things extra carefully now. I'm not superstitious, but this is one fall we could've done...
|15:15||Dominique Arnould: "It was planned in advance"|
One of Europcar's directeurs sportifs, Dominique Arnould, told letour.fr Voeckler's breakaway was planned in advance: "He told us this morning he wanted to get in the breakaway. He's riding strong and you never know. They may manage to thwart the sprinters, although it would've been better if there'd been other riders with them. It's not easy for two riders on their own. It'll all depend on how the sprinters' teams react."
|15:07||Average for the first hour|
The two men in front covered 43.2 km during the first hour of racing.
Thomas Voeckler (EUC) and Luis Maté (COF) boast a 3'35" lead over the peloton 42 km into the stage.
|14:55||Maté leads over the first climb|
Luis Maté (COF) crossed the summit of the category 4 Côte de Campagnette (km 34) in first place, defending teammate Cyril Lemoine's polka-dot jersey.
|14:52||A splint for Froome|
Team Sky's directeur sportif has handed Vasil Kiryienka a splint to protect Chris Froome's aching wrist.
|14:50||Gap remains stable|
33 kilometres into the stage, Luis Maté and Thomas Voeckler's lead over the peloton remains stable at 3'05".
|14:48||Maté, the Andalusian lynx|
30-year-old Luis Maté, known as the "Andalusian lynx" is a tough rider who likes to get into breakaways. The Spaniard's raced for Cofidis since 2011.
|14:35||Astana and Giant-Shimano lead the chaseMarcel Kittel and yellow jersey Vincenzo Nibali's teams have taken matters into their own hands and started to chase the two breakaways.|
|14:34||Breakaway three minutes aheadThomas Voeckler (EUC) and Luis Maté (COF) have a three-minute lead at km 20.5.|
|14:32||Pommerie: "That's got to hurt"Race doctor Florence Pommerie has told France Télévisions that the 2013 Tour champion's wounds are superficial: "They're essentially a few scratches, but that's got to hurt nevertheless. He also hurt his wrist, but we'll have to wait and see how it goes..."|
|14:30||Froome back in the pelotonThe 2013 Tour champion's back in the main field after getting his left thigh bandaged. The peloton sat back and relaxed while race number 1 was being treated, allowing the gap to the breakaway to rise to 1'55" by km 18.|
|14:27||A growing gapThomas Voeckler (EUC) and Luis Maté (COF) now have a 1′15″ margin over the peloton.|
|14:26||Froome visits the doctorChris Froome's dropped back to the medical car for a check-up. He seems to have injured his left thigh and wrist. Bauke Mollema is back in the peloton, just like the other victims of the fall, Spanish champion Jon Izaguirre and Jens Keukeleire (OGE).|
|14:23||Voeckler and Maté 40 seconds aheadThe two breakaways' lead has ballooned to 40 seconds as a result of the fall.|
|14:22||Froome hurt on his left sideChris Froome's injured his left thigh and his shorts are ripped. Two Sky teammates are working to bring him back to the bunch. All the riders involved in the fall are back in action.|
|14:20||Froome hits the tarmacChris Froome (SKY) and Bauke Mollema (BEL) have hit the deck towards the back of the peloton.|
|14:19||Didier Rous: "We'll try and keep the jersey"Cofidis is heading towards its home turf in Nord with Cyril Lemoine in the polka-dot jersey, and it's planning to defend it by placing its men in today's breakaway.|
"Of course, we'll try and keep the jersey, but our main goal will be to stop Blel Kadri and Jens Voigt from getting into the breakaway, since they're the major threats to Cyril in this classification", explained directeur sportif Didier Rous to letour.fr.
"But, since we'll be racing in front of our home...
|14:10||Maté rides with VoecklerThomas Voeckler (EUC) and Luis Maté (COF) have opened up a 15-second gap.|
|14:09||Voeckler goes on the attackTwo riders have launched an early attack, including Thomas Voeckler (EUC).|
|14:08||In the papersPhilippe Bouvet writes in l'Équipe about his admiration for Marcel Kittel, according to him, the best sprinter in the world without the shadow of a doubt: "The sprinter hierarchy is one of the big battles of the Tour, but the outcome's already clear regardless of the absence of Mark Cavendish, who had to leave far too early for the crowds. Marcel Kittel's performances in London and Harrogate showed he's the best rider in the Tour and, therefore, in the world."|
|14:03||The flag goes downThe actual start was given to a 195-strong bunch. There's one DNS, Andy Schleck (TFR), who hit the deck during the previous stage.|
|14:00||Emmanuel Hubert: "Why should we give up?"Bretagne-Séché has featured in breakaways every single day since the Tour de France started. Directeur sportif Emmanuel Hubert warns that his riders will continue to attack at every occasion.|
"If an opportunity arises, we won't let it go to waste", he told letour.fr.
"On a course like this, I'm thinking of chaps like Arnaud Gérard, Anthony Delaplace, Benoît Jarrier or Florian Guillou. Of course, an attack from the get-go would be ideal. The stage looks like a...
|13:54||Team classificationWith three riders in the top 20, Chris Froome's Team Sky defended its lead in the team classification on its home turf. Next up are Nibali's Astana and BMC.|
|13:52||White jerseyAlthough Peter Sagan leads the classification, Romain Bardet (ALM) is wearing the best young rider's jersey in today's stage thanks to his tenth place overall and second place among the under 25s. Michał Kwiatkowski, 11th in the 2013 Tour, is third.|
|13:50||Polka-dot jerseyWith no categorised climbs in the stage from Cambridge to London, Cyril Lemoine (COF) is still in possession of the best climber's jersey. The Frenchman has six points, one more than fellow countryman Blel Kadri (ALM) and two more than third-placed Jens Voigt. Today's stage features two category 4 climbs, the Côte de Campagnette (km 34) and the Mont Noir (km 117,5).|
|13:48||Green jerseyPeter Sagan (CAN) consolidated his grip on the points classification green jersey, with a total of 117 points, including the sackful of points he took by finishing second to Marcel Kittel in London. The German tells anyone who'll listen that he's not aiming for the green jersey, but he sits in second place, with 90 points, and could pose a serious threat to the Slovak's ambitions if he manages to make it three out of four in Lille. With just two points between him and the Teutonic titan,...|
|13:43||Yellow jerseyVincenzo Nibali (AST) defended the yellow jersey he got in Sheffield without breaking a sweat, as yesterday's stage to London had a negligible impact on the overall classification. There are still twenty riders within two seconds of the Italian, including most of the favourites. Peter Sagan sits in second place, ahead of Switzerland's Michael Albasini and Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet, ranked according to their placings in the previous stages.|
|13:39||Rolling outThe peloton is rolling out of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage.|
|13:32||Andy Schleck won't take the startAndy Schleck (TFR) won't be on the start line of stage 4. According to a press release issued by his team, the 2010 Tour champion injured his ligaments after falling during yesterday's stage.|
|13:22||Welcome to stage 4Welcome to stage 4 of the Tour de France, 163.5 km from Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille-Métropole. The first stage on French soil will start under the rain.|
Jersey wearers after the stage 9
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Will the three stages in the Vosges determine the overall winner?
- Yes, they’ll confirm Nibali’s domination9.61%
- No, the real fight will happen in the Alps47.68%
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