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Vittel - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 4 from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel, 207.50 km - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

TDF’17 St4: Démare Dodges The Damage – Sagan Goes Home!

Race Report: Arnaud Démare powers in hectic final kilometer in Vittel with Cavendish and Thomas both involved in separate crashes. After a long break by Guillaume van Keirsbulck, there was only one outcome, but crashes split the field in last meters.

***STOP PRESS: Peter Sagan Disqualified from the 2017 Tour de France.***

Today gave the term ‘transition-stage’ a whole new meaning. With an uphill finish yesterday and tomorrow it was always going to be the sprinters who contested the stage. It was an uninteresting spectacle for spectators and commentators alike for much of the afternoon, that is until the fast-men started to rub shoulders!

The 207km route only had one categorised climb which came with 40km to the line so that jersey stayed safely on the shoulders of American Nate Brown (Cannondale-Drapac).

There is Always One
After yesterday’s hard-fought stage it was no surprise that today’s action began at a more pedestrian pace. The move of the day went from the gun when 26 year-old Belgian Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) launched himself from the peloton. He quickly built up a minute lead as the group behind chatted and soft-pedalled through the opening section.

An initial look of amazement was apparent on the face of Van Keirsbulck as he shook his head to the cameras with a wry smile. This was going to be a very long day for him as the lone leader and he was very aware of it.

Not keen to waste energy he tucked into an aerodynamic position which he held for over four hours as he powered along. Though the escapee managed to build a maximum gap of 13 minutes, fatigue took its toll and he eventually succumbed to his fate, being reeled in with 15km to the line.

Drama in Vittel
As the race entered the closing stages, Sky were present at the front keeping race leader Geraint Thomas out of trouble. World time-trial champion Tony Martin then took the reins at the 4km point pushing the pace up to 60kmph to set-up the Katusha-Alpecin sprinter Alexander Kristoff.

The finalé of Tour de France stage 4 say a horrendous crash brining down Cavendish, Degenkolb and Swift. It didn't affect stage winner Arnaud Démare (FDJ) who was well ahead of the carnage. Race Report up soon. Pic:CorVos/PezCyclingNews.

Dimension Data had the perfect lead-out for Cavendish with Renshaw and Boasson Hagen controlling the race from 2km to the line. This hard work was to be undone however as the race reached its climax. There was a tumble just before the flamme rouge involving several riders including Geraint Thomas, though he got off lightly with only a few bumps and bruises.

Just moments later disaster struck in the final 200m when Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) drifted into Cavendish’s path forcing him into the barrier, also taking down John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo). Cavendish came down hard on his right shoulder and it is questionable whether or not he will start tomorrows 160km stage from Vittel – La Planche des Belles Filles.

Vittel - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) - Alexander KRISTOFF (Norway / Team Katusha - Alpecin) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakia / Team Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 4 from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel, 207.50 km - foto Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017

FDJ’s French National champion was ahead of the carnage and was unaffected and probably unaware of what was going on behind him as he crossed the line for his first Tour de France stage win. He also took the green points jersey from Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), who finished 13th after being delayed by the first crash.

After a close look at video of the finish, the race jury decided that World champion, Peter Sagan had caused the crash by sticking his elbow out as Cavendish was on his inside. Sagan went to the Dimension Data team bus immediately after the finish to apologize, but the Rainbow jersey will not be on the start line in Vittel on Wednesday.

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) is on his way to the hospital after tangling with the barriers at the end of Tour stage 4 in Vittel. More news to come. Pic:CorVos/PezCyclingNews.

Wednesday’s summit finish of stage 5 on the La Planche Des Belles Filles should see a change in the overall positions – Keep it PEZ!

Tour de France Stage 4 Result:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ in 4:53:54
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
5. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
6. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:07
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
8. Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:10
9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
11. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
12. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
13. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
14. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
15. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
16. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie
17. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
18. Davide Cimolai (Ita) FDJ
19. Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
20. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
21. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
22. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
23. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky
24. Patrick Bevin (NZ) Cannondale-Drapac
25. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 4:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 14:54:25
2. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:12
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 0:16
5. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:25
6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 0:30
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) TSky at 0:32
8. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ at 0:33
10. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 0:37
11. Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC at 0:38
12. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:40
13. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
14. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:43
15. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
16. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
17. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-Scott at 0:45
18. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott
19. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC at 0:47
20. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:48
21. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar
22. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:49
23. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:51
24. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:52
25. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana.

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