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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. - Marcus Aurelius

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage four team reports

Olympics 50 Craziest Stories

We posted the organizer's report with the stage results.

Here's stage winner Fernando Gaviria's Team Quick-Step's report:

The longest finishing straight of the 2018 Tour de France was a thrilling and action-packed one, with the peloton furiously chasing the day-long four-man breakaway, who led until under the flamme rouge arch, where they were mopped up by a reduced bunch, consequence of a crash that occurred with five kilometers to go.

Fernando Gaviria was unfazed by all what happened in the closing part of the 195km stage between La Baule and Sarzeau, throughout which he was protected by his teammates at all times, and after being ideally dropped by the brilliant Maximiliano Richeze with 220 meters to go, he put in a devastating sprint which saw him beat Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), en route to Quick-Step Floors' 49th UCI win of the season.

"To take two stages at my first Tour de France is just... Wow! It wasn't easy at all, but we came here in very good condition, keen on leaving our mark on this great race, and thanks to the fantastic work of the entire team we have reasons to smile and be happy, but we don't want to stop here and will remain focus for what's to come", said Fernando after his hugely impressive sprint in Bretagne, a region which abounds in myths, legends and stunning scenery.

A quartet got clear of the bunch early and established a seven-minute advantage, while Quick-Step Floors duly moved to the front of the pack with Tim Declercq and Niki Terpstra, doing the bulk of the work and bringing the gap down to two minutes inside the last 20 kilometers. On paper, the chasers shouldn't have had any problems in nullifying that move, but a strong tailwind played into the escapees' advantage, who rode for dear life on the narrow roads of Morbihan.

Quick-Step Floors were joined in the chase by other teams only with ten kilometers left, and despite the scrappy finish and the road going up in the last kilometer, always maintained its position at the front, thanks to an unreal 400m lead-out of Richeze. Gaviria confidently opened his sprint from the middle of the road, and despite being briefly surpassed by Greipel, he found that second magical kick to notch up the victory, Quick-Step Floors' 34th at the Tour de France.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria just wins stage four. Sirotti photo.

The 23-year-old Fernando, the first rider to win multiple stages at this year's edition, took us through the hectic finish of Tuesday, which brought him within four points of the points classification lead.

"It was difficult today, because the breakaway really pushed us, as we were the ones working the most at the front. We also had some headwind and that uphill drag, but Max was unbelievable, he knows when it's the right time to go to the front and did again a perfect lead-out", said Fernando, before revealing the secret behind the success of Quick-Step Floors: "We're more than a team, we are a family, always believing in our chances and riding for each other."

Green Jersey Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this update:

With the breakaway holding the peloton at bay for 194km of the 195km parcours, it looked as though the escape would just make it to the end today. However, at the Tour de France, once the sprinters have the scent of the finish line, there’s no holding them back. Making the catch under the Flamme Rouge, the world’s best fought it out, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, battling through crowds and making space no other rider could find. Missing the win by just half a wheel, Peter held the race’s Maillot Vert.

The Stage
Today’s stage saw riders steadily making their way north, from the glamour of La Baule to Sarzeau further up the Brittany coast. The 195km route took an indirect route, heading inland before looping back round to its finale. While the parcours was fairly flat throughout, with only one short fourth category climb to challenge the peloton, Atlantic winds would make the going difficult, and some street furniture in the final kilometres had the potential to cause crashes and splits, but with a flat and straight finale, provided they reached the finale safely, one of the sprinters would be taking the win today.

The Team Tactics
While the GC race was yet to start taking shape, it was still important to make sure Rafał Majka stayed safe in these early days in order to remain in contention. The first few road stages had seen many of the GC riders crash or experience mechanical problems, while others had been caught behind splits and lost valuable time that would be valuable later on. The flat finale seemed tailor-made for the pure sprinters and it would be important to make sure the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was delivered to the finish in a strong position to challenge for the win. Daniel Oss would be his lead-out man in the narrow roads leading to the line.

The Race
After yesterday’s tough Team Time Trial, riders were still feeling the efforts in their legs when they rolled out today. While some would want to take it easy, the breakaway had other ideas, with the quartet of escapees building up an advantage that was at odds the efforts of the time trial. Within a few kilometres their lead was up to 3:30, topping out at a little less than eight minutes. Breaking the 100km mark, the peloton upped the pace, but still the break held their advantage. As the kilometres passed, all four riders remained out in front, and while the time gap decreased, with 10km remaining, they still held the peloton at bay by more than a minute. While the peloton was spurred on, a crash with 5km to go split the bunch and made it harder still to keep up the pace and make the catch, but with just a kilometre remaining, they were finally reeled in. In a narrow finale, it looked as though the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was blocked in, but fighting for room and jumping from wheel to wheel, the Slovak rider found space where no other rider would find it. In the end, Peter was just held off – the winning margin coming down to half a wheel. His second position meant the BORA-hansgrohe rider would hold the Green Jersey for another day, while Rafał Majka remained eleventh in the overall standings.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan remains in green after stage four.

From the Finish Line
"The headwind was a big issue today in the final sprint and positioning and timing were crucial. I finished second and I'm happy to keep the green jersey. Today's breakaway was strong and the escapees did a good job. We didn't pull for most of the race except for the final kilometres and let the other teams do it. The fight for the green jersey is on but we have a long race to Paris with some climbs in between. The important thing is that we also managed to stay again clear of trouble and avoid the crashes of the final kilometres. The guys are doing a great job in that aspect." – Peter Sagan

"I think we can be happy with the result today. We kept the green jersey and the finale suited Gaviria more than Peter. We were always in the front when we had to and stayed out of trouble during the whole day. In the final kilometres, when the big crash happened, Rafa was safe with our guys at the head of the bunch and was able to avoid any trouble. We are very focused so far and everything is going really well. The next two days will suit us more and we’ll try to take our chances."– Enrico Poitschke

GC leader Greg van Avermaet's BMC team sent me this:

10 July, 2018, Sarzeau (FRA): Greg Van Avermaet successfully defended the yellow jersey on Tour de France stage 4 after a day of racing that saw BMC Racing Team working together up at the front of the peloton all day to ensure all eight riders crossed the line safely in another hectic bunch sprint.

It was a gently rolling 195km course from La Baule to Sarzeau today with BMC Racing Team putting Patrick Bevin, Tejay van Garderen and Michael Schär up at the front of the peloton to control the pace after four riders went clear almost as soon as the flag dropped.

The breakaway was allowed to go almost eight minutes up the road but with Schär and Bevin continuing to share the majority of the pacemaking over the first 80km of the day, the gap started to come down before stabilizing at around seven minutes.

With an almost entirely straight 3km run into the finish line, the possibility of a bunch sprint looked likely and so the sprinters' teams soon joined the chase and pulled the leaders back to inside 3 minutes at the halfway point of the stage.

BMC Racing Team continued to sit together in first part of the main bunch approaching the Côte de Saint-Jean-la-Poterie, the day's only categorized climb, and by the time they reached the top of the category four ascent, the breakaway was hovering 1'40" ahead.

With just under 60km still to race, the pace relaxed and the gap went back out to 2'55" before the chase restarted heading into the final 25km of the day. However, the leaders were still holding onto an advantage of 1'40" at the 15km to go mark and with a more determined effort starting behind, nerves began to show in the peloton.

A crash in the middle of the peloton, which all eight BMC Racing Team riders avoided after holding their position at the front, slowed the chase slightly with less than 5km to go but in the end, the race came back together going under the flamme rouge and the sprinters got the showdown they were looking for with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) taking the win.

Van Avermaet was kept well-positioned as the final battle for position began and he eventually crossed the line safely alongside Richie Porte and the rest of his teammates to retain the leader's yellow jersey heading into stage 5 tomorrow.

Van Garderen continues to sit second overall on the General Classification with the same time as Van Avermaet while Porte remains 14th, 51 seconds back.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet remains in yellow.

Quotes From the Finish Line:

Greg Van Avermaet:
"It was a nice day in the beginning but it got pretty hectic in the final. The guys did a really good job to protect Richie and me. They were always on the front and we spent a lot of energy in the wind but as we saw, anything can happen and by staying up at the front we were in the safe zone. We protected ourselves and with no time loss, it was a perfect day."

"I think tomorrow will be another hard stage. It will be important to stay in front and stay safe but in the end, I think we can do more in the final. We have a strong team. I will try to be up there and I would like to make a good result. I've enjoyed my day in yellow but I also came here to try and get a stage win and I think tomorrow is my first big opportunity. A win in yellow would be even more incredible."

Richie Porte:
"We were right up at the front for most of the stage and I wasn't even aware that there had been crashes. Michael Schär, Stefan Küng and Paddy Bevin did a super job for us. Sometimes it's nice to have the jersey and therefore have the right to sit up there. It was a nice day overall."

"Tomorrow is a hard stage but it is more of a positioning battle. It's not an easy stage by any means but, I think stage 6 will be more of a test for me."

Lotto-Soudal's TDF stage four crash report

Tiesj Benoot and Tomasz Marczynski crashed with five kilometres to go on stage 4 of the Tour de France. The Polish debutant hit his handlebars with his left knee, that knee is bruised. It’s pretty realistic that he will be able to start tomorrow.

Tiesj Benoot has incurred a second degree dislocation of the AC joint in his right shoulder, a bruise of the ribs, the right shoulder blade and left wrist, he has abrasions on his hips, back, arms and legs and cuts at his right eyebrow and the back of his head, stitched with respectively seven and one thread. Tomorrow will be decided if Benoot starts stage 5.

Tiesj Bennot

Tiesj Benoot winning this year's Strade Bianche

André Greipel finished third on the fourth stage of Le Tour de France, behind stage winner Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan.

André Greipel: "It was once again a hectic sprint. With the team we managed to stay at the front pretty well. After the crash I still had Keukeleire, Sieberg and De Buyst with me. I chose to take the initiative myself today. I started sprinting pretty early with about 300 metres to go. I had hoped to be able to get on the wheel of someone else, but that wasn't possible. I accelerated again with 100 metres to go. But I felt Gaviria and Sagan coming. I can be satisfied with my sprint, I was in the running for the victory so that's very promising."

Ruth Winder wins Giro Rosa stage five

Winder's Team Sunweb sent me this race report:

After being part of a successful late breakaway, Team Sunweb's Ruth Winder (USA) has won the fifth stage of the Giro Rosa. Her first Women's WorldTour win, she takes over the overall race lead and is the fourth rider from Team Sunweb to wear the Maglia Rosa during this year's race.

Winder said: "For the first 80 kilometres we stayed safe and calm together in the bunch. We had Liane in the early break which was great and when that came back, we focused on positioning for the climb. The team did a really good job setting this up. I felt good over the top so we made it really hard and I put in attack and got away with two others. Coming into the sprint I had good legs and put my all in to take the win."

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "We had Liane in an early break which was a good situation for us. They were caught back before the climb and we had full focus, watching for attacks. When they didn't come, Ruth attacked on the plataeu and rode a strong final 25 kilometres, with the team covering the peloton behind. She stayed cool in the final and won the sprint from the break. It's a huge bonus that she's the fourth rider in the team to wear the Maglia Rosa."

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