NEWSFLASH: Sagan DQ.
Mondorf-les-Bains - Vittel
Tour de France - 4 July 2017
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Arnaud Demare is the new green jersey after winning stage 4 in Vittel. Good day in the office for the French national champion.
Provisional GC has Peter Sagan up to second place, 7 seconds down on Thomas, after picking up bonus seconds for finishing runner-up. Froome is in third at 12 seconds. It remains to be seen if the result will stand.
Peter Sagan is currently at the Dimension Data bus after that incident - he's apologising for his role in the collision and checking on the health of Mark Cavendish... We still don't know the full extent of Cavendish's injuries.
We should add that the incident involving Thomas did occur in the final 3km and so the Welshman will not lose any time on GC. He got up and completed the stage - and so Thomas will stay in yellow. Confirmation of GC coming up.
So, a terrible end to the stage for the British riders: Geraint Thomas, the yellow jersey, went down in that first crash - which brought down Marcel Kittel's lead-out train as well. And then Ben Swift also went when Cavendish hit the barriers and brought down Degenkolb.
We're hearing reports that Mark Cavendish has broken his shoulder in that crash, which would rule the Dimension Data rider out of the race.
Here's that incident involving Sagan and Cavendish, as well as Demare's victory.
Greipel and Bouhanni completed the top five in that terribly messy and incident-packed sprint at Vittel.
That's a first sprint victory in the Tour for Demare's FDJ team since 2006.
Replays clearly show Sagan elbowing Cavendish before the Manxman hit the barriers. Poor form from the world champion there.
Cavendish is still down. It doesn't look good. He was boxed out by Sagan and slammed hte barriers at speed, before being run over by Degenkolb, who went down heavily too.
The French national champion was the last man standing in an utterly chaotic sprint... It's a maiden Tour win for Demare ahead of Sagan and Kristoff.
Victory for Arnaud Demare!
CRASH: Cavendish into the barriers! Another mini pile-up. Degenkolb down too.
Demare, Greipel, Cavendish and Sagan are still here - and Bouhanni and Kristoff.
CRASH: Thomas is down - and many others. Big split in the peloton. Kittel won't make the split...
The pace is high on this downhill sweep ahead of an all-important tight turn. Groenewegen is near the front but it's Boasson Hagen is on the front for Dimension Datsa.
Degenkolb there for Trek, but some Bora riders are looking over their shoulders for their man, Sagan. No sign of Quick-Step of Kittel for now. Sunweb are in the mix, as are FDJ and Direct Energie. It's a technical approach to Vittel.
On a little uphill kicker, van Keirsbulck is finally spat out the back after hitting the wall. Katusha and Cofidis are setting a fast tempo for Kristoff and Bouhanni. Lotto Soudal are readying themselves for Greipel, and Dimension Data are still on the right of the road for Cavendish.
Team Sky are keeping near the front to stay out of trouble, with yellow jersey Thomas in third wheel. Cofidis and Dimension Data have formed their trains on the other side of the road, while Katusha have just powered through the middle.
There's a fair bit of arguing going on at the moment with an Astana rider - Grivko or Zeits - gesticulating wildly with riders from Movistar and Dimension Data. I think it was about the wind and hogging certain parts of the road, but there's clearly a bit of beef going on out there.
He was on the front, now he's on the back: van Keirsbulck is struggling to keep in touch with the peloton after his mammoth break.
British national champion Steve Cummings makes a rare cameo on the front of the peloton to help pave the way for Dimension Data team-mate Mark Cavendish. The road is wide, the pace is high, the sprint trains are forming.
Out since kilometre zero, Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) is caught by the peloton after riding solo for 190.8km. Chapeau.
Talking of Cavendish, Dimension Data have thrown a man on the front alongside Katusha and Cofidis - to fight for the right to sprint at the end. It's almost over for our valiant escapee, who has the peloton closing in. He finished 22nd in the final sprint on Sunday; no chances he'll repeat that today.
Today will be the fourth stage finish in the Tour's history. Previous winners are: France's Charly Grosskost in the 1968 prologue, Dutchman Jelle Nijdam in stage 6 in 1990, and the Dane Nicki Sorensen in stage 12 in 2009. Sorensen's win came after he attacked from a six-man break during a Tour in which Mark Cavendish won six stages. Eight years on, can the Manxman get on the score sheet in Vittel, so to speak?
Just the minute now for the lone leader, a former Quick-Step rider who would love nothing more than deny former team-mate Marcel Kittel, the green jersey, that chance of doubling his stage tally. But he'll know - and will have known from the moment he attacked some 185km ago - that he has next to no chance of causing an upset today.
Breakaway killers Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors) and Tiago Machago (Katusha-Alpecin) lead the chase on the front of the peloton. It won't be long now: van Keirsbulck has 1:15.
Over the top of the climb goes the pack, trailing van Keirsbulck from 1:30. The Belgian moves into joint fifth place in the KOM standings - on one solitary point - so that's confirmation that Brown will stay in the dots for another day. Things should change tomorrow, mind: stage 5 features a Cat.3 climb ahead of the final Cat.1 ascent of La Planche des Belles Filles - so whoever wins the stage will also take the polka dot jersey, in all likelihood.
We're onto the only categorised climb of the day, the Cat.4 Col des Trois Fontaines, which is a bit of a dead rubber, really. Van Keirsbulck will take the solitary point over the top and it will have no bearing on the KOM standings, with Nate Brown staying in the polka dot jersey for a second day for Cannondale-Drapac.
Lotto Soudal, Cofidis, Katusha and Quick-Step Floors all have men on the front of the pack now helping to prepare the way for their sprinters Greipel, Bouhanni, Kristoff and Kittel. Bora-Hansgrohe (Sagan), Dimension Data (Cavendish) and FDJ (Demare) are not showing their hands for the moment.
Arnaud Demare holds on for second place in the intermediate sprint ahead of Peter Sagan, Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel and Michael Matthews. They went through the sprint 2:15 down on van Keirsbulck. Those 17 points for second put Demare just one point behind Kittel in the green jersey standings.
Guillaume van Keirsbulck wins - uncontested - the intermediate sprint at Goviller, which he passes through with an advantage of three minutes over the pack, who are now readying themselves for the sprint.
Team Sky's Christian Knees loads up with water bottles back in the peloton. Van Keirsbulck has not notched over 150km out in front of the race on his own. He would have had a lot of time to do some thinking.
The intermediate sprint is coming up, and while Guillaume van Kiersbulck won't care one jot, we will see some action from the sprinters in the pack: in a bid to stretch their legs ahead of the finish, but more importantly for green jersey points. The gap is 3:35 for the Belgian.
The sprint on Sunday in Liege was very much a showdown of the peloton's fast men, what with a top ten in this order of: Kittel, Demare, Greipel, Cavendish, Groenewegen, Colbrelli, Swift, Bouhanni, Matthews and Sagan. Missing in that list were John Degenkolb, Dan McLay and Alexander Kristoff. Expect that baker's dozen of sprinters to be in the mix again today at Vittel. Sagan made up for his disappointment with a victory yesterday, so he'll be buoyant, but he's not a pure sprinter, so it's tough to call. The finish is slightly uphill and so the world champion may have another sniff... but watch out for the inform Demare and that man Cavendish.
It's been a long day. Just imagine a very long series of these very long, straight, flat roads. Our lone leader - out since the outset - has 4:35 over the pack.
On Bardet, it worth adding that he had his annual hair cut this morning at the Tour village in Mondorf-les-Bains.
There's no way the peloton will let our Belgian solo rider be caught just yet - it would throw a curveball up and open the possibility of a counter attack from someone with fresher legs ahead of the finish. So expect to see the backside of Van Keirsbulck for a bit longer before he's reeled in. Meanwhile, back with the peloton and there's a go-slow as the yellow jersey drops back to visit the Team Sky car. Romain Bardet also dropped back to his Ag2R-La Mondiale car and is now being paced back by a handful of team-mates.
Two things are certain: 1. Van Keirsbulck won't stay out ahead of the peloton today, and 2. He will, at least, find consolation in winning the day's combativity prize - and so will wear a red number tag tomorrow. His gap now dips below five minutes.
After some largely flat roads in north-east France, we're going into slightly lumpier terrain ahead of the intermediate sprint and subsequent Cat.4 climb before the run into the finish at Vittel. Who's going to win today? Why not vote in our Twitter poll below...
If you're just joining us, here is a recap: Lone leader Guillaume van Keirsbulck of Wanty-Groupe Gobert has been out since kilometre zero in this 207.5km stage from the home town of Andy and Frank Schleck to Vittel. He had a maximum lead of 13:30 but now holds a smaller advantage of 6:30 over the peloton as the race passes through the feed zone of this long transitional stage - a third stage in as many days in excess of 200km in length.
With the gap coming down to seven minutes for Van Kiersbulck, the FDJ team of French national champion Arnaud Demare send a man onto the front of the pack. So far, this one is keeping to the script as the race passes through the town of Pagny-sur-Moselle.
We had a shake up in the white jersey youth classification yesterday after Switzerland's Stefan Kung (BMC) struggled on the final rise to the finish. Kung is now third in the standings, 13 seconds behind Frenchman Pierre Latour of FDJ. Andrey Lutsenko of Astana is second, at 12 seconds, while Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) is fourth at 15 seconds, five seconds ahead of fifth placed Simon Yates (Orica-Scott). Both Latour and Buchmann finished with the main GC favourites, but Yates and the others were caught out in a split, coming home eight seconds down at Longwy.
The gap is coming down now for our lone leader, who's advantage has dropped below double figures for the first time in 50-odd kilometres. 'Just' 9:45 now for van Kiersbulck.
While we're going through the jerseys, let's take a look at the king of the mountains competition: for a second successive day, we have an American from Cannondale-Drapac in polka dots. Nathan Brown (3pts) took over from Taylor Phinney (2pts) in Cannondale's on-going game of dot potato; that man Sagan separates the two riders after picking up 2pts after yesterday's climb to the finish, while Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) also has 2pts. Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) have 1pt apiece. With just one Cat.4 climb on the menu today, there should be no change in the standings.
Here's a good stat on yesterday's winner, Peter Sagan, who moved onto 50pts in the green jersey competition with his eighth Tour triumph - 16 behind current points classification leader, Marcel Kittel. Snug between the German and the Slovakian is Frenchman Arnaud Demare, who has 57 points. The Slovakian is going to have his work cut out to win a sixth successive green jersey this July: there are only two uphill ramped finishes that suit his characteristics, and he's already won one of them. With another seven bunch sprints expected, a rider like Kittel could dethrone the king - although Sagan is just so consistent, as this stat shows...
He may have the best part of 13 minutes to play with, but recent history doesn't bode well for Guillaume van Kiersbulck. The rule of thumb suggests that these crazy solo breaks just don't work - hence the nickname, 'suicide break'. Incidentally, the longest solo breakaway in the history of the Tour was Albert Bourlon in 1947: a staggering 253km. So even if van Keirsbulck stays out today, he won't better Bourlon.
Around one-quarter into this long transitional stage and lone leader Guillaume van Kiersbulck of Belgium has 12:45 over the pack as compatriot Thomas de Gendt of Lotto Soudal comes to the front to help with the chase. He'll be hoping to pave the way for team-mate Andre Greipel in Vittel.
According to our man Brian Smith - aka The Coach - today's finish could suit former French national champion Nacer Bouhanni. The Cofidis rider is still in the hunt for his maiden Tour stage win - in fact, he's never finished in the top three - and today's finish could suit the combative Frenchman quite nicely. Watch Brian in the video below to find out why...
Over 12 minutes now for our baroudeur, Van Keirsbulck, who is covering the Pont Laurent Barbier, which crosses the Moselle, is painted blue - like the sky, right now - and is named after its late architect. Van Keirsbulck is the third Wanty rider in as many days to get into a break, after Frederik Backaert yesterday and Yoann Offredo on Sunday.
We caught up with a relaxed and chatty Mark Cavendish ahead of today's stage - and the Dimension Data rider is realistic about his chances of adding to his tally of 30 Tour stage wins. Given his battles with glandular fever this year, it was mighty impressive to see Cav so competitive in Sunday's sprint, in which he finished fourth. Perhaps today is the day the Manx Missile will move within three wins of Eddy Merckx's record tally?
The crowds are out in their droves on what is a lovely, sunny day in the Meurthe-et-Moselle region of northern France. Our lone leader now has more than 10 minutes over the peloton. This fine, warm and clement weather makes a bit of a change from the rain and wind we had in Dusseldort and Belgium for the Grand Depart.
Team Sky control the tempo on the front of the peloton in Froome's absence. The triple champion is riding with the yellow jersey, Geraint Thomas, further back, while Luke Rowe marshals things with Christian Knees and Michal Kwiatkowski. Apologies, but we don't have a new white Team Sky jersey icon, so we'll have to go with the traditional black...
The gap is up to 8:45 for Guillaume van Kiersbulck, who is currently having a snack. The 26-year-old joined Wanty this year from Quick-Step, with whom he spent his entire career since joining as a trainee in 2010. The classics specialist has five career wins to his name - most notably a sodden edition of Le Samyn back in March. The Belgian raced the Vuelta in 2013 but never finished higher than 22nd in a stage - which is currently his best position in this year's Tour.
The peloton is already strung out as Chris Froome rides near the back of the pack after dropping off to talk to his Sky team car. The defending champion is the favourite to win this race, according to Jens Voigt, who is in the Eurosport commentary booth with Rob Hatch. The retired German thinks that the Tour will be decided between Froome and his former team-mate Richie Porte, and he thinks today's sprint will be won by that man Peter Sagan...
The helicopter camera crew are having a field day today as lone leader Van Kiersbulck stretches his lead out to almost six minutes.
The riders have just entered France again after that little detour back into Luxembourg this morning - to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Luxembourg Cycling Federation, apparently.
Besides its eponymous baths, Mondorf (population 4,970) is home to one of Luxembourg’s finest Rococo churches and the country’s only casino. The Tour has twice hosted intermediate sprints at Mondorf-les-Bains: on Stage 2 in 2002 (Sylvain Chavanel taking the spoils) and Stage 10 in 1992 (Johan Museeuw).
Between them, the Schlecks took part in 22 Tours and won five stages, with Andy, the younger brother, retrospectively being crowned the 2010 Tour champion. In the absence of the Schlecks, the race’s local Luxembourger is Ben Gastauer (AG2R-La Mondiale), whose birth town is just a handful of kilometres west of Mondorf-les-Bains.
From Luxembourg’s foremost spa town to a town renowned for its bottled water: Stage 4 of the race is certainly themed one part oxygen to two parts hydrogen. There’s good reason – other than its quality spa facilities – for the Tour to visit Mondorf-les-Bains for the first time: although brothers Andy and Frank Schleck would have appreciated the call a few years ago and before they’d retired (in the case of Frank, just last year).
The lone leader from Belgium already has three minutes on the soft-pedalling peloton - but make no mistake, there will be nothing other than a bunch sprint today, with the likes of Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Demare, Nacer Bouhanni and Dylan Groenewegen looking to take the win.
Poor Guillaume van Keirsbulck: no one has decided to join the Belgian off the front so the 26-year-old Tour debutant will be riding on his own in what will only ever be a suicide break... Still, it will be good publicity for his wildcard Wanty-Groupe Gobert team.
There's an attack right from the outset from Guillaume van Keirsbulck of Wanty-Groupe Gobert just moments after Tour director Christian Prudhomme waves the flag from his car...
They're off! The remaining 195 riders roll out of the home town of the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, to get this stage under way. Here's what they have on the menu...
Australian Matthews (Team Sunweb) beat Ireland's Martin (Quick-Step Floors) for second place before the Belgian Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC) came home for fourth. Italy's Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac) led the chasing pack over the line two seconds in arrears - with Team Sky duo Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas finishing safely in the top ten. Defending champion Froome moved into second place on the general classification - trailing his Welsh team-mate by 12 seconds. Bonus seconds over the line saw Matthews and Sagan rise to third and fourth on GC - 12 and 13 seconds behind Thomas respectively.
Yesterday, World champion Peter Sagan managed to hold off Michael Matthews and Daniel Martin to claim a supreme win on Stage 3 despite unclipping during his final sprint. Slovakian sensation Sagan recovered from inadvertently pulling his foot from the pedals to hold off his rivals at a thrilling conclusion to the lumpy 212.5km stage from Verviers to Longwy.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 4 of the Tour de France - a 207.5km ride from Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg to Vittel in France, via one Cat.4 climb and, probably, a bunch sprint finale.