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It’s easy to forget that Fernando Gaviria’s only 23, so rapid has been his ascent to the upper echelon of sprinters. But on the fourth stage of the Tour, from La Baule to Sarzeau, the young Colombian showed again that he’s arguably the fastest in the game, pipping Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel at the line for his second win of the Tour. You’d be brave to bet against him taking a third (or fourth…).
After a chaotic opening few days, the day’s racing followed a more conventional path. A breakaway of four riders from minor teams with a point to prove jumped away at the start, spending most of the day on the front in an ultimately futile search for a stage win.
There were some nervous moments on the approach to the line, most notably a crash at 5km which brought half the bunch to a standstill. Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) fared the worst; his race ended on the road there with a broken collarbone. Tiejs Benoot (Lotto Soudal) looked the grisliest, limping to the line with blood streaming down his face. His team will make the call tomorrow as to whether he’ll be able to continue.
Of the GC contenders caught up in the crash, Rigoberto Uran was unhurt and able to catch back onto the main field, while Ilnur Zakarin will be rueing his lost 59 seconds. The Katusha-Alpecin leader now sits close to two minutes off the pace before the race even hits the mountains.
Up ahead, the peloton timed the catch to perfection, reining in the remnants of the breakaway with just under 1km to go. For a brief time, it seemed like seasoned campaigner André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) would add to his tally, but he faded in the last 50m and was pipped by a fast-finishing Gaviria and Sagan.