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Tour de France 2018 Stage 4: Gaviria makes it two

Dan Alexander
10 Jul 2018

Fernando Gaviria holds off Peter Sagan to take second stage win as Greg Van Avermaet stays in yellow

Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) took his second stage win of the 2018 Tour de France, winning Stage 4 in Sarzeau ahead of sprint rivals Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal).

Gaviria was led to the line perfectly by a Quick-Step teammate, but had Sagan in his wheeltracks as he opened up his sprint.

Greipel then appeared on the opposite side of the road to briefly hit the front, but couldn't sustain his effort, while Sagan's late kick wasn't enough to deny the Colombian Quick-Step sprinter.  

Yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) finished the 195km stage from La Baule safely in the peloton to retain the race lead, but a number of riders lost time after a crash with 5km to go caused a split in the field. 

How the stage unfolded

Yesterday's team time-trial saw Chris Froome (Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and Adam Yates (Michelton-Scott) regaining most of the time they lost in crashes on Saturday's opening stage, with BMC's performance good enough to take the stage win to put Van Avermaet in yellow.

For Nairo Quintana (Movistar), though, the disappointment continued with a relatively poor time that leaves the Colombian over two minutes down on Geraint Thomas (Sky) who is currently the best placed GC rider.

Today, though, it was back to the more typical fare of the Tour's opening week. With just a solo fourth category climb to contend with 60km from the finish, the route looked almost certain to deliver another bunch sprint – especially with the 195km stage climaxing in Sarzeau with a 4km straight into a headwind that dragged slightly up to the line.

As such, this was the third instalment in the sprint battles that dominated the weekend before the team time-trial, as the sprinters’ teams fought the nervy GC contenders for position at the head of affairs seeking to avoid the kind of dramas that blighted the opening weekend.

As the flag dropped on another scorching day for the riders a quartet – Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie), Dimitri Claeys and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty–Groupe Gobert) attacked to form the break of the day.

They quickly amassed an advantage of a little under eight minutes over the peloton before BMC, defending the yellow jersey, took up station at the front of the peloton to control the pace.

The intermediate sprint in Derval brought the sprinters to the fore in a dress rehearsal for the finale with limited green jersey points on offer after the breakaway swept up the majority of the spoils.

Gaviria (Quick-step Floors) was the first across the line in the peloton followed by Greipel (Lotto Soudal). Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was next over the line, consolidating his grip on the green jersey.

With Quick-Step Floors, LottoNL-Jumbo, Lotto Soudal and FDJ sharing the work, the gap was dramatically cut to just two minutes by the time Perez led his breakaway companions over the top of the Côte de Saint-Jean-la-Poterie on 135.5km to take the single king of the mountains point on offer.

Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), who took the point on offer on the opening stage's single climb, keeps the mountains jersey as he is higher on GC than Perez.

With the gap to the break having come down so quickly, the pace at the front of the peloton then eased off again so the four up front weren't caught too early.

As a result, the four up front were still well clear at the time bonus sprint with 38km to go, Claeys leading Van Keiersbulck and Perez over the line.

10km from the end, the break still led by over a minute, which was probably more than the peloton would have liked. Then with 5km to go a big crash midway down the peloton threw another spanner in the works. 

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) was one big GC name caught on the wrong side of the split, continuing his miserable run of luck so far in this Tour.

By the finish line he had dropped a minute to the rest of the GC contenders.

But with all the big sprint trains pulling hard, the odds were always against the four leaders, and the catch was finally made inside the final 2km, allowing the quick men to take over.