Tour de France: Chris Froome crashes on stage four as Marcel Kittel claims third win
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 08/07/14 5:23pm
Chris Froome survived an early crash on stage four of the Tour de France as Marcel Kittel sprinted to his third win of the race in a closely fought finish.
Froome fell when a rider cut across his front wheel just a handful of kilometres into the day and was left with cuts to his left shoulder, hip and knee, as well as a sore right wrist.
The defending champion was able to remount his bike and finish the stage in the peloton after receiving treatment from the race medical car, but the incident was a setback ahead of Wednesday’s cobbled and potentially hazardous fifth stage.
Kittel (Giant-Shimano) claimed his third win in four days and seventh Tour stage victory in total after narrowly beating Alexander Kristoff into second and Arnaud Demare into third.
Nibali retains yellow
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) crossed the line in the peloton to retain his two-second lead at the top of the general classification, while Froome (Team Sky) drops two positions to seventh due to cumulative stage placings but remains two seconds adrift.
Kittel said afterwards: “It was really exhausting. I was thinking about was the last corner at 250m. I was almost tempted to go at 500m, but I had to sit down again.
“I went really long with everything I had. It was really difficult. Today we saw that we are not unbeatable and we always need a plan and need to concentrate on our preparation for the sprint. It was close today.”
Stage four saw the race return to France after three hugely successful days in England and the route - from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille - was once again suited to a bunch finish.
Voeckler falls short
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) believed he could thwart the sprint teams and mounted a breakaway alongside Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), but when his Spanish colleague suffered two mechanical problems, the pair's three-minute lead lead plummeted and Voeckler's slim hopes of staying clear quickly evaporated.
I just hope everything goes well tomorrow. It’s going to be a very important day as far as this Tour is concerned. I’m hoping we can hang on to the yellow jersey but it’s going to be a very hard day.
Kristoff navigated a wet and twisting finale at the head of the field and looked on course for victory when he was the first man to launch his sprint. However, Kittel once again underlined his supremacy on the flat by surging ahead in the final 50m and winning by half a wheel.
Attention now turns to a potentially crucial stage five, which travels from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut and crosses 15.4km of cobblestones split over nine sections.
Nibali said: “I just hope everything goes well tomorrow. It’s going to be a very important day as far as this Tour is concerned. I’m hoping we can hang on to the yellow jersey but it’s going to be a very hard day."
Stage four result
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 3:36:39
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, same time
3 Arnaud Demare (Ger) FDJ, st
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
6 Andre Greipel (Ger) otto Belisol, st
7 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st
8 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
10 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 17:07:52
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, +2secs
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge, st
4 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, st
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
7 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
8 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, st
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, st
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st