Marcel Kittel continued his dominance of the 2014 Tour de France, winning another mass sprint on Tuesday to capture Stage 4. In what was without a doubt the closest finish of the year, Kittel just edged out Alexander Kristoff and Arnaud Demare with an excellent jump on the line.
The full results of Tuesday's race:
|2||Alexander Kristoff||Katusha||Same Time|
|3||Arnaud Demare||FDJ||Same Time|
|4||Peter Sagan||Cannondale||Same Time|
|5||Bryan Coquard||Europcar||Same Time|
|6||Andre Greipel||Lotto-Belisol||Same Time|
|7||Mark Renshaw||OPQS||Same Time|
|8||Danny van Poppel||Trek Factory||Same Time|
|9||Davide Cimolai||Lampre-Merida||Same Time|
|10||Daniel Oss||BMC||Same Time|
The Tour de France peloton lost another big name on Tuesday, as former winner Andy Schleck decided not to start, following his heavy crash during Monday's stage, per Sky Sports News:
Former winner Andy Schleck pulls out of Tour de France following crash yesterday #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 8, 2014
Stage 4 was dominated by mechanical issues and early attacks. Thomas Voeckler (who else) was feeling particularly adventurous, and the peloton allowed him and Spain's Luis Angel Mate to build an early lead.
The pack was shocked by an early crash, and Tour favourite Chris Froome was one of the riders who went down. The Brit was able to continue the race, but according to Team Sky, he took quite a bit of damage during the crash:
Niki Terpstra was the next to get acquainted with the tarmac, and while the Dutchman, too, was able to continue the race per OPQS, the former Paris-Roubaix winner will have been hoping for a smoother ride with an eye on tomorrow's stage.
Voeckler and Mate took advantage of numerous punctures and crashes in the peloton, building up a maximum lead of 3:23. But with 70 kilometers still to go, mechanical issues finally caught up with the duo.
Mate's shifting gear broke down, forcing local hero Voeckler to continue on his own. The pack then started to push the tempo, looking to force another mass sprint, and Lotto-Belisol even managed to break the peloton in half on two occasions.
Lotto's pace was so high they even forced a crash of their own. It was terrible news for Andre Greipel, who lost a big part of his sprint train ahead of the finish in Lille. Greg Henderson had to exit the race, according to Roadcyclinguk, so the German sprint specialist will be without his pilot for the rest of the Tour de France:
Greg Henderson has abandoned the #TDF after sliding out on a roundabout. Less than 25km to go and Voeckler soon to be caught by the bunch.— roadcyclinguk (@roadcyclinguk) July 8, 2014
Voeckler was finally caught with 17 kilometers still to go, setting the stage for the third mass sprint in four days. Giant-Shimano and Tinkoff-Saxo organised the peloton, with Tony Martin attempting an unsuccessful late break.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step made the sprint for Mark Renshaw, but it was Kristoff who led the pack into the final 200 meters. Kristoff seemed to resist the pressure from the peloton, but in-form Kittel took over the lead late and finished with a beautiful jump.
|2||Peter Sagan||Cannondale||+2 secs|
|3||Michael Albasini||GreenEdge||Same Time|
|4||Greg Van Avermaet||BMC Racing||st|
|7||Chris Froome||Team Sky||st|
|9||Jurgen Van den Broeck||Lotto||st|
|6||Arnaud Demare||BMC Racing||44|
|7||Greg Van Avermaet||Garmin||42|
|10||Andre Greipel||Lotto Belisol||37|
|2||Blel Kadri||AG2R La Mondiale||5|
|9||David de la Cruz Melgarejo||NetApp-Endura||2|
|10||Chris Froome||Team Sky||1|
Wednesday's stage is all about the cobblestones, and the riders will hope the weather clears up ahead of the start in Ypres. The peloton will follow parts of the legendary Paris-Roubaix course, and with heavy winds expected, Stage 5 has all the makings of an instant classic.
Pure power-riders like Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara will be the favourites for the race win, with the top contenders for the leaderboard probably riding with two hands on their brakes on Wednesday.
A crash on Roubaix's cobblestones has ended many a season for riders in the past, so don't expect the likes of Froome and Alberto Contador to take any risks. The cobblestone specialists will be given free rein to make the race on Wednesday, and it's unlikely the pack will do much to stop them.