At the start of stage four we had the first abandon of this year's Tour. Jurgen van de Walle who crashed on the first day, did not arrive at the start after riding through pain the last two days.
The stage today followed the what is becoming a familiar pattern. Although the weather decided to turn wet, but carried on being windy. A small group got away containing Jon Izagirre Insausti (EUS), Johnny Hoogerland (VCD), Biel Kadri (ALM), Imanol Erviti (MOV) and for a second time Jérémy Roy (FDJ). Indeed Roy had been the first man ever under a Green banner for a super sprint on the road taking the 20 points at Arvillé on stage one.
The small 4th category climb of Côte de Laz offered one point and with this group of five meant that three riders would share the top spot in the Tour on the road until we climbed the Mûr-de-Bretagne later in the stage, which as a 3rd category climb would mean the stage winner would take sole lead of the King of Mountains unless the person in second place was either Philippe Gilbert, Mickaël Delage, or whoever topped the Côte de Laz. In the end once Hoogerland made a gap heading for the top of the Côte there was no contest.
It was then a matter of waiting up for the other four to head on to the sprint at Spézet. Here two Hoogerland and Roy opened a bit of a gap on the other three, crossing the line in that order, it moved Roy up to 47 points in the Points competition. Kadri, Izagirre and Erviti then filled the othe rtop 5 finishes.
With 10 points on offer for the peleton's top sprinter the teams were battling for it. Garmin-Cerevélo were working for Tyler Farrar, Movistar took to the front working for the Green jersey of Rojas, HTC were leading out Mark Cavendish, even the Polka Dots on the back of Philippe Gilber were prominent. Today the battle was clean, but Tyler Farrar had the better of the rest, followed by Rojas, Borut Bozic then Cavendish.
On the road the standings were.
1. Jose Rojas Movistar 74 pts +9pt
2. Tyler Farrar Garmin-Cevélo 68 +10
3. Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma-Lotto 55 +3
4. Thor Hushovd Garmin-Cevélo 50 nc
5. (6) Romain Feillu Vacansoleil-DCM 38 nc
6. Jérémy Roy (FDJ) 37 +17
7. (9) Borut Bozic (VDM) 36 +8
8. (7)Cadel Evans BMC 35 nc
8. (8)Denis Galimzyanov KAT 35 +6
10. (5)Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad 34 +7
Cadel Evans had a mechanical incident at just about 22km to go, swapped bikes but his team had him back in the peleton within a km and then they were ready to get him back up through the peleton. However, Romain Fiellu had an incident at about 10km and then had his own team car pace him back up to the rest of the cars. He was seen indicating to the driver of his team car to up the pace at times as he rode on the bumber.
But then we were into the undulations on the way up to the Mûr-de-Bretagne. The capture of the escapees came at 3.7km on the outskirts of the town of Mûr-de-Bretagne. George Hincape took the lead at the start of the steep part of the climb before the climb, sacrificing himself for Cadel Evans.
Philippe Gibert was in the should of his own man Jurgen van den Broeck. When Alberto Contador took off up the hill. But Gilbert responded, as did Cadel Evans but Thor Hushovd himself in yellow crawled back up with these climbers.
|Nathalie Magniez/AFP/Getty Images via the Guardian|
Hushovd should not really have been in that mix, but he was and keeps the Maillot Jaune. Hushovd coming in 6th picked up 20 points in the Green Jersey competition, to Gilbert's 22.
The top 10 in the GC is now.
1. Thor Hushovd (GRM) 13 hrs 58'25"
2. Cadel Evans (BMC) @ 1"
3. Frank Schleck (LEO) @ 4"
4. David Millar (GRM) @ 8"
5. Andeas Klöden (RSH) @ 10"
6. Bradley Wiggins (SKY) @ 10"
7. Geraint Thomas (SKY) @ 12"
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) @ 12"
9. Andy Schleck (LEO) @ 12"
10. Jakob Fuglsang (LEO) @ 12"
Green now looks like this*
1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (MOV)
2. Cadel Evans BMC 80
3. Philippe Gilbert (OLO)
4. Thor Hushovd (GRM)
5. Tyler Farrar (GRM)68
6. Romain Feillu (VCD)
7. Jérémy Roy (FDJ) 37
8. Jurgen van den Broeck (OLO) 36
9. Borut Božič (VCD)
10. Alberto Contador (SAX) 35
11. Denis Galimzynov (KAT)
12. Mark Cavendish (HTC)
So Hushovd hands the Maillot Jaune (Yellow Jersey) over to Thor Hushovd after that tough uphill finish. Jose Joaquin Rojas despite a good sprint at half distance has to hand over the Green Jersey to Jose Joaquin Rojas. Geraint Thomas hands the white jersey over after losing no seconds to Geraint Thomas. Only the polka dots change location, going to the man who wore Green on stage 2 and three Cadel Evan's the stage winner, who is also second in the Green Jersey competition, not bad for a non sprinter in the first week of this new point allocation for the Green Jersey.
* The Strike outs are points as they should have been with the stage 3 intermediate sprint as it was at the line.