Kittel beats Coquard on uphill sprint at the Tour de France

Marcel Kittel edged out Bryan Coquard in a photo finish to win stage four of the Tour de France, as Peter Sagan retained the overall lead.

Etixx-QuickStep showed confidence in Kittel as they helped in the chase to bring back a strong breakaway that was finally caught on a small climb with 7km to go. Unsurprisingly, Tinkoff and Orica-BikeExchange were trying to make things hard with Oscar Gatto, Roman Kreuziger and Michael Albasini and they made the group explode to pieces.

There was a huge fight for position as Lotto Soudal briefly backed off and allowed Kreuziger and Gatto to hit the front for Tinkoff. While they rode on the front, their captain Alberto Contador nearly came down and he suddenly found himself at the very back of the field.

Lotto were gathered behind the Tinkoff riders and again took over with 2km to go where Marcel Sieberg hit the front with Greg Henderson, Jurgen Roelandts and Greipel on his wheel. Henderson was next to take a turn and he led the group under the flamme rouge.

This is where Etixx-QuickStep started to move up next to the Lotto riders who were passed by Mark Renshaw who took a short turn on the front. Then Jacopo Guarnieri did the lead-out for his Katusha captan Alexander Kristoff and Greipel and the Etixx train slotted into the position behind the Russian train.

Maximilano Richeze sprinted to the front but Kittel hesitated and didn’t follow his teammate. Instead, it was Kristoff who launched his trademark power sprint and then Kittel reacted. Sprinting next to Kristoff and race leader Peter Sagan, the German easily distanced his rivals and got a big gap.

He looked like he would take a comfortable win when Bryan Coquard suddenly came from behind. The Frenchman got closer and closer and seemed to come around but Kittel had an extra gear. Both sprinters threw their bikes across the line but no one dared to celebrate. It took a few minutes before Kittel was declared the winner while Sagan was a distant third.

However, that was enough to extend his overall lead over Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) to 12 seconds. He faces a much sterner test tomorrow in the first tough climbing stage of this year’s race. Stage 6 brings the riders into the hilly Massif Central where the riders will tackle several climbs in the finale. There’s an early category 4 climb and then flat roads lead to the second half where two category 3 climbs serve as a warm-up for two steep category 2 climbs. The final of those tops out just 14.5km from the finish and then there’s a 3.3km category 3 climb with an average gradient of 5.8%. The final 2.5km are slightly descending until the final 500m kick up at a gradient of 6%.

Tour de France 2016 – stage 4 results (Saumur – Limoges):

1 Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step)


2 Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie)


3 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)


4 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo)


5 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)


6 Sondre Holst Enger (IAM)


7 Daniel Mclay (Fortuneo – Vital Concept)


8 Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)


9 Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R)


10 Simon Gerrans (Orica-BikeExchange)



General classification after stage 4:

1 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)


2 Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step)


3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)


4  Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin)


5 Christopher Froome (Sky)


6 Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff)


7 Nairo Quintana (Movistar)


8 Fabio Aru (Astana)


9  Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange)


10 Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac)


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