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Tour de France 2019: Viviani takes sprint win on Stage 4 after perfect lead-out from Deceuninck-QuickStep

Joe Robinson
9 Jul 2019

Italian makes it two wins in two days for his Belgian team as he proves the fastest sprinter in the race

A perfect lead out from Deceuninck-QuickStep launched Elia Viviani to a career-first Tour de France stage win as he was the best of the sprinters on Stage 4.

The Italian proved too quick for his rivals as he expertly followed the wheels of teammates Michael Morkov and Max Richeze into the final 150m to beat Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) into second and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) into third.

Poor positioning saw pre-stage favourite Dylan Groenewegen settle for minor places while Ewan's late surge knocked Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) away from completing the podium.

Victory for Viviani sees him become the latest rider to have taken victories in all three Grand Tours following his previous results at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

It also helps take the pressure off the 30-year-old who returned from his home Giro in May without a win, while also continuing the high spirits of his Belgian team that took a second consecutive stage win. 

In terms of the race lead, it all remained the same with Viviani's teammate Julian Alaphilippe keeping yellow from Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert and Steven Kruijswijk who sit in second and third respectively.

Back to business 

After all the excitement of Julian Alaphilippe's Stage 3 exploits, that saw him not only take the stage but the yellow jersey too, the race looked set to return to normality for Stage 4.

A flat day for the sprinters, a long 213.5km slog from Reims to Nancy was in store for the peloton. Only two categorised climbs en route, it seemed as if all the day's action would be reserved for the closing kilometres into the birthplace of retired legendary French footballer Michel Platini.

With such a beige course on offer, only three riders decided to bite the bullet and join the day's breakaway. Those were Michael Schar of CCC Team and Wanty-Gobert duo Yohan Offredo and Frederik Backaert.

They slowly tapped out a lead that was brought back at the will of the peloton, the only point of note for the first 150km being Viviani taking the remaining points in the intermediate sprint after the leading trio had snapped up the first three places.

By the 40km to go marker, the peloton had the breakaway in sniffing distance, letting them dangle ahead with a bridgeable margin of 50 seconds.

Leading proceedings at the front were Lotto-Soudal, Deceuninck-Quickstep and Jumbo-Visma, all considering the chances of their sprinters for the day's finish, the first that was truly suited to the race's heavy men.

It was not until the final 16km that the break was reeled in, a testament to the trio's efforts, especially Schar who was the last man to get caught.

Team Sunweb cranked up the pace with 15km to go, probably in an attempt to make the race hard, yet a block headwind made their effort double difficult.

Direct Energie's Lilian Calmejane took a flyer in the final 11km, if anything, to put the sprinters' teams on further edge although his gap was never substantial. Eventually, he was caught and the stage was all set to be decided by the fast men.