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Tour de France: Marcel Kittel beats Bryan Coquard on stage four

Mark Cavendish eighth as Peter Sagan retains overall lead

Germany's Marcel Kittel (2ndL) crosses the finish line ahead of France's Bryan Coquard (R) on stage four of the Tour de France
Image: Marcel Kittel (left) claimed the ninth Tour de France stage win of his career

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.

Kittel (Etixx - Quick-Step) led out the sprint on an uphill finishing straight in Limoges and held off a strong surge from Coquard (Direct Energie) to claim victory by an even finer margin than Mark Cavendish's win over Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) 24 hours earlier.

Cavendish (Dimension Data) found himself boxed in with 400m to go and could only finish eighth, while Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) crossed the line third to extend his overall lead of the race courtesy of four bonus seconds.

Marcel Kittel, Bryan Coquard, Tour de France
Image: Kittel defeated Bryan Coquard in a photo finish

He is now 12 seconds ahead of second-placed Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx - Quick-Step) and 14 seconds in front of third-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), after the pair finished in the peloton in 15th and 16th respectively.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) had to stop due to a bottleneck with about 3.5km to go but recovered to cross the line in the bunch, in 37th. He is now 18 seconds down on Sagan in fifth, having been replaced in fourth place by Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) on cumulative stage placings.

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Britain's Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) continued his excellent start to his debut Tour by crossing the line in seventh, his third top-10 so far.

Kittel, who now has nine Tour stage wins to his name, said: "I'm very emotional right now. It feels like my first stage win again. I'm super-happy. I'm very proud because the team was really fighting for this win.

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Marcel Kittel, Tour de France, Peter Sagan
Image: The finishing straight in Limoges was uphill

"Some things went wrong these last days and I'm so happy to be back in the Tour and to win a stage, especially like this, with this uphill. I can't believe it."

Stage four was the longest of the race at 237.5km and although four riders mounted a determined breakaway, a sprint finish was never in doubt.

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Greipel's Lotto Soudal had led the peloton for much of the final 10km but were swamped when they turned into the finishing straight and the German could not recover.

Cavendish had been sitting just behind Greipel and although he finished strongly, he had too much ground to make up on Kittel and Coquard and never looked like winning.

Marcel Kittel, Tour de France, stage four
Image: Kittel put a difficult start to this year's Tour behind him

Coquard finished the strongest and collided with Kittel as the pair battled for victory, but the German prevailed by less than the width of a tyre.

Sagan's third place saw him replace Cavendish at the top of the points classification and open up a lead of 147 points to 142 over the Manxman.

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Tour de France guide

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The Tour continues on Wednesday with a rolling, 216km fifth stage from Limoges to Le Lioran. Find out more about the route in a our race guide and follow the stage with our live blog from 12pm BST.

Stage four result

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step, 5:28:30
2 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie, same time
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, st
4 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st
6 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling, st
7 Dan McLay (GB) Fortuneo-Vital Concept, st
8 Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data, st
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
10 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange, st

General classification

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, 20:03:02
2 Julian Alaphilippe (fra) Etixx - Quick-Step, +12sec
3 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +14
4 Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin, +18
5 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +18
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff, st
​7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, st
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange, st
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac, st

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