Tuesday July 8th, 2014

Stage 4Le Touquet-Paris-Plage / Lille Métropole

Start 13h55 (Local time)

Kittel digs deep for a hat-trick

Stage summary08.07.2014Stage 4- Le Touquet-Paris-Plage / Lille Métropole

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. French champion Arnaud Démare (FJD) finished a solid third, ahead of Peter Sagan (CAN) and Bryan Coquard (EUC), the two main protagonists of the points classification.

Froome hits the deck

The first stage on French soil started on the beaches of Le Touquet without 2010 Tour champion Andy Schleck (TFR), taken out of commission by a ligament injury caused by a fall sustained in the approach to London the day before. Defending champion Chris Froome also got a taste of tarmac a few kilometres into the stage after being dragged into a fall which also involved Bauke Mollema (BEL) and Spanish champion Jon Izaguirre (MOV). Race number 1 made his way back to the peloton with a bruised right side, a scare and a few scratches.

 

Lemoine keeps his treasure

The Brit's misery was a boon for the two attackers, whose lead had ballooned to 3′30″ by kilometre 50. Further back, Marcel Kittel's Giant-Shimano and André Greipel's Lotto-Belisol organised the chase while a side wind sapped the breakaways' strength. Maté took advantage of the race situation to grab the points at the top of the first category 4 climb in defence of teammate Cyril Lemoine's polka-dot jersey.  

 

The peloton splits

Today's intermediate sprint was contested in Cassel, the scene of Thomas Voeckler's win at the 2011 Four Days of Dunkirk. The Frenchman took it ahead of Maté, with Peter Sagan (CAN) coming in third to add 15 green jersey points to his tally. After the sprint, the Slovak's teammates joined forces with Lotto to force a split. Riders like Michał Kwiatkowski (OPQ) and Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) were caught unawares but eventually managed to claw their way back.

 

The Lotto train derails

This whole affair pushed Thomas Voeckler's gap to 1′30″ at the top of the Mont Noir and extended his daring solo adventure. However, the chasers regrouped and the Frenchman's lead dwindled to just twenty seconds as he got out of Armentières, 30 km before the line. Calamity struck when three of André Greipel's Lotto-Belisol teammates crashed and Kiwi Greg Henderson was forced to leave the race. Thomas Voeckler's adventure came to an end in the outskirts of Lille with 16 km to go.

 

Kittel pushed to the limit

A series of incidents, including Peter Sagan's fall 15 km before the line, messed up the final sprint. When Alberto Contador and Andrew Talansky's teammates moved to the front to keep their leaders out of harm's way, Katusha seized the opportunity to set up Milan – San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff. Marcel Kittel was forced to use up all of his gunpowder to forge ahead and clinch his seventh Tour stage win in two years.

  • Kittel digs deep for a hat-trick

    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....

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Stage 4 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage / Lille Métropole

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