Wednesday 4 July 2012

Tour de France 2012: Stage 4 Abbeville to Rouen

Yesterday's stage with its narrow roads, change of wind direction and worry about the many climbs at the end certainly saw the splits in the peleton. There was a number of minor crashes and punctures but then about 25km from the end there was one quite near the head of the peleton which caused a major and decisive split. It also led to the first two withdrawals from the Tour Kanstantsin Sivstov (SKY) and Jose Joaquin Rojas (MOV).

Then there was another crash in the final km as one of the lead out men came back through the rapidly racing leaders in the closing stage. Denis Menchov (KAT) came down and Chris Froome (SKY) was almost as a result thrown into the crowd as a result. Fortunately all those riders affected were given the same time as the bunch under the final 3 km rule. There were some people who had been detached from the group before that final crash who came in amongst them but were getting the times they had when they crossed the line. So the Stage 3 Classifications look a bit confused. However, what it did mean certain team leaders were affected was that Sandy Cesar (FDJ) lost 47 seconds, Alexandre Vinokourov (AST) 58", Lieuwe Westra (VCS), Thomas Voeckler (EUR) and Jonathan Cantwell (STB) 7'27", Simon Gerrans (OGE) 10'37".

The men who avoided the crashes were ready for a serious attack on the final climb, but Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ) who had won his French national title 12 months ago on this finish line took off alone to try and beat the peleton. For a while he was the virtual leader on the road, but he got caught. There it was down to teh same puncheurs once again to strike for the line. Once again it was Peter Sagan (LIQ) who stole the march and had a gap of 1 second over the others. But it was Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) in second, Peter Velits (OPQ) third and Fabian Cancellera (RSN) fourth. Birthday boy Nicolas Roche (AGM) came in 7th.

Unaffected at the front for most of the day for Michael Morkov (STB) who added another 5 points to his King of the Mountains lead being the the break for the third day in a row. If he does it again today there are 4 points up for grabs. The last one Côte de Toussaint at 143km is just after the intermediate sprint at 140km in Fécamp. There will still be 61.5km to the finish from that final climb as the race heads inland having skirted the coast all the time so far.

It should result in the second sprint finish. So there should continue to be no change in the General Classification but the Points currently stand at:
  • Peter Sagan 116
  • Fabian Cancellera 74
  • Mark Cavendish 73
  • Edvald Boasson Hagen 67
  • Matt Goss 55

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