Mark Cavendish claimed his 31st stage victory at the Tour de France, three down fromrecord holder Eddy Merckx, five years after the last one and six years after he already imposed himself at Fougères. Nacer Bouhanni and Jasper Philipsen rounded out the podium in this bunch sprint finish. Mathieu van der Poel completes the four days of the race in Brittany with the Maillot Jaune ahead of the first individual time trial.
Périchon and Van Moer in the lead
177 riders took the start of stage 4 in Redon. One non-starter: Caleb Ewan. His team-mate Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal) was first to attack at km 10. Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) reacted to make it a leading duo that got the green light of the peloton. Their maximum advantage was 2’50’’ at km 38. Taking over from Deceuninck-Quick Step, Kristian Sbaragli set the pace for a long time in the name of the Alpecin-Fenix team of race leader Mathieu van der Poel. In the second half of the race, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) helped stabilizing the time gap around 2’.
Van Moer takes the intermediate sprint
Van Moer outsprinted Périchon at the intermediate sprint in Vitré (km 114) on the same line where the Route Adélie comes to an end every year. The peloton was only 1’20’’ behind. With 15km to go, the difference was down to 30’’ as Ineos Grenadiers sped up after taking over from the sprinters teams. Van Moer rode away solo 14km before the end and gave it all to try and fend off the peloton. The Belgian rider increased his lead to 1’ under the banner of the 10km to go.
At the eleventh hour
Van Moer got reeled in with 150 metres to go. It looked like Philipsen was going to make it three in a row for Alpecin-Fenix but Cavendish came out of the box at the very end to write his fairy tale in Fougères, the place where he already won in 2015. He was the last rider selected by Deceuninck-Quick Step as a substitute to last year’s green jersey winner Sam Bennett. Cavendish, 36, is also back in the green jersey he won in 2011 while van der Poel retains the Maillot Jaune.