Fernando Gaviria claimed his second Tour de France stage victory in just four days as he outsprinted Peter Sagan and André Greipel on the spectacular 4-km long finishing line of Sarzeau. Greg Van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey.
174 riders took the start of stage 4 in La Baule. The enfant du pays Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie), Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Dimitri Claeys and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) rode away from the gun to make a breakaway representing France and Belgium on pair. The advantage was 5’ at km 10 and 7’ at km 20. Their maximum advantage was 7’40’’ before km 50. Michael Schär set the steady pace of the peloton behind the four breakaway riders. His BMC team-mate Patrick Bevin took over until sprinters’ teams decided to regulate the bunch: Lotto-Soudal, Quick Step, Groupama-FDJ.
A breakaway revitalised by a crash
The difference was down to 3’25’’ at the intermediate sprint of Derval, precisely at half way into the race at km 97.5. Perez took the only KOM point up for grabs at Saint-Jean-la-Poterie with 60km to go as the leading quartet realized was timed with an advantage of 1’30’’. However, the Frenchman knew he wouldn’t dethrone Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) from the lead of the mountains competition as the Kiwi was ranked higher than him on GC and the breakaway was destined to fail. GC contenders like Dan Martin, Jakob Fuglsang, Bauke Mollema, Mikel Landa and Steven Kruijswijk were involved in a crash just within 50km to go. The peloton slowed down to allow the injured riders to make it back. Therefore, the deficit went back to 3 minutes 35km before the end and a hard chase became necessary. It was 2’15’’ with 25km to go and 1’35’’ with 15km to go.
Richeze gives the perfect lead out
A crash with 5km to go took Ilnur Zakarin and Rigoberto Uran to the ground. The Colombian made it back to the pack with 3km to go. AG2R-La Mondiale’s Axel Domont was forced to pull out. The leading four riders were eventually reeled in under the flamme rouge of the last kilometre. Max Richeze gave Fernando Gaviria the ideal lead out and the Colombian fended off Peter Sagan and André Greipel who were close to deprive him of his second Tour de France victory.