Tour de France Stage 4: Greipel gets win, Cavendish and Eisel down in big crash

World champ and his Team Sky colleague among riders brought down around 3 kilometres from the line

by Simon_MacMichael   July 4, 2012  

Tour de France 2012 poster

André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol has won Stage 4 of the 2012 Tour de France in Rouen, his first victory of this year's race, with 2010 green jersey winner Alessandro Petacchi second. A big crash a little over two and a half kilometres from the line brought down a number of riders including world champion Mark Cavendish, who looked dazed as he sat on the road immediately afterwards before remounting his bike to ride slowly towards the finish. Team Sky colleague Bernie Eisel also hit the deck, but completed the stage and seemed in reasonably good spririts as he confirmed that he would head to hospital for tests. Fabian Cancellara retains the race lead by seven seconds from Bradley Wiggins; both were also involved in that incident, but neither loses time with it occurring inside the last three kilometres.

It was the second day running that the end of a stage had been marred by a crash, although the one yesterday in Boulogne-sur-Mer came within sight of the line as Peter Sagan cruised to victory.

The main danger on today’s run-in had been predicted to be a bridge over the Seine that had a right-hander at its entrance and a left-hand turn at its exit, the flamme rouge to signal one kilometre to go placed in the middle.

However, some big names were missing from that group that rode as it those potential pitfalls, with many riders having come down or being delayed by that crash a little under two kilometres earlier.

Among those still in the front group was points classification leader Peter Sagan, the 22-year-old Slovak finishing fifth to amass further points to increase his lead in the competition for the green jersey.

Cavendish, the man who won that classification in last year’s Tour, had earlier managed to close the gap slightly on the Liquigas Cannondale rider as today’s stage followed the pattern of the previous road stages with a hard fought intermediate sprint.

It was the Team Sky rider who picked up the maximum 13 points on offer once there breakaway riders had gone through that intermediate sprint in Fécamp, at the point where the route swung inland after hugging the coast for more than 100 kilometres.

Missing from the break today for the first time in this year’s race was Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank’s Michael Morkov, wearer of the polka dot jersey, but one man perhaps with his sights on that prize this year, Cofidis rider David Moncoutié, in his last year in his peloton, was there.

The attack had been instigated by Yukiya Akashiro of Europcar, who would finish the day as the first Japanese rider to win a combativity prize on a Tour de France stage, with Anthony Delaplace of Saur Sojasun also getting across and the trio build up a big lead before being reeled back in ahead of the closing phase of the race.

Going under the ten kilometre to go banner, as the race headed up the day’s final uncategorised climb, their advantage had been slashed to mere seconds, and they were swallowed up as a series of attacks came from the peloton including one from Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, trying and failing for the second day in succession to get the eight seconds that would put him into the maillot jaune.

RadioShack-Nissan, fighting to keep Cancellara in the jersey, led the chase and Chavanel and his fellow attackers were swept up with around five kilometres to go, the stage seemingly heading for a bunch finish including all the star sprinters until that chute as the stage neared its conclusion.

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Stage winner André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol):

"A victory in the Tour cannot be compared to anything. The victory this year or the one from last year is completely different. We're here with a real group of friends and then it's easier to set good performances, to fight for each other. It's an incredible team performance, a reward for the whole team for the amount of hard work today on the one hand, but also in the stage from the day before yesterday. When you see how long Francis De Greef was pulling on the head of the peloton and all the guys have led me perfectly to the front. The train has worked perfectly, just like Monday."

"I heard the crash, but we are riding 60 km an hour, so you don't have the time to look behind. I didn't know exactly what had happened. I hope the guys that crashed aren't hurt badly and can start tomorrow."

"I consciously didn't take part in the intermediate sprint. Sunday I did because it wasn't an arrival suited for a real sprint and I decided to test the legs for a moment. Monday and today I consciously didn't battle for it, Sagan has such a big lead that it isn't simple to race him out of the green jersey. Winning a stage was always the first goal and that was realised today."

Team Sky Sports Director, Sean Yates:

“It was certainly not what we wanted to see. The lead-up to a sprint is very dangerous and we see this kind of thing time and time again. Nobody wants to see crashes for anybody and we were among the victims again today.

“There wasn’t a lot of room there in the bunch. At that speed with a touch of wheels, before you know it you are lying on the deck. The guys are battered and bruised but they will fight on. These guys are tough. We saw Cav jump back up after his accident at the Giro.

“Up to that point the day had been relatively straight forward and a lot calmer than yesterday. But it’s never over until it’s over. The crash was inside the 3km and so the rule applies and Bradley held station on the GC.”

Maillot jaune, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan):

“It was dangerous today.  That’s the way it is in the Tour de France; it’s never easy. Especially when we saw how things played out at the end. We go slow for a while, then it’s so hectic at the end and the crashes come. I was very concerned today. We were going 60kph with the wind behind us, fans all along the side, road dividers…..

"it was a hectic day. Everyone knows as we get close to the end that anything can happen. You only have a millisecond to think about what to do. It’s like a wave that goes from one side to the other and sometimes you have no choice where to go. It’s a daily business, these crashes. But every day is different and I try to enjoy every day.  I’ve had this jersey for 26 stages in my career and it’s always nice.”

Jens Voigt, RadioShack-Nissan:

“The crash happened on a really huge road,” explained team rider Jens Voigt.  “I think riders were getting too close to the side of the road and perhaps lost their balance, setting off a chain reaction.  I think there were at least 10 guys down on the ground and probably 20 were stuck behind while the rest of us could get around them.

“Luckily it was inside the 3km to go marker so everybody will have the same time.  If it would have happened 300 meters sooner, we would have lost the yellow jersey.  We were also lucky to not be in any of the crashes, so we defended the jersey and stayed safe.  Once again, mission accomplished.  It was a good day for us.”

Tweet of the Day:

"Seconds after the massive pileup with 2k to go: Eisel: "Who's fault was that!" Farrar:" F*ck it was you Bernie!" Oops" - Karsten Kroon, Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank

Tour de France Stage 4 result  

1  GREIPEL André          LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM           05h 18' 32''
2  PETACCHI Alessandro    LAMPRE - ISD              All at same time
3  VEELERS Tom            TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO
4  GOSS Matthew           ORICA GREENEDGE
5  SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE
6  CANTWELL Jonathan      TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK
7  IMPEY Daryl            ORICA GREENEDGE
8  BOECKMANS Kris         VACANSOLEIL-DCM
9  BOASSON HAGEN Edvald   SKY PROCYCLING
10 PEREZ Ruben            EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI
11 HENDERSON Gregory      LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM
12 ROELANDTS Jurgen       LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM
13 FOFONOV Dmitriy        ASTANA PRO TEAM
14 VELITS Peter           OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP
15 DI GREGORIO Rémy       COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE
16 BURGHARDT Marcus       BMC RACING TEAM
17 GRETSCH Patrick        TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO
18 MARTINEZ Egoi          EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI
19 BRAJKOVIC Janez        ASTANA PRO TEAM
20 IZAGUIRRE Gorka        EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI

Last man home Stage 4  

195 LANGEVELD Sebastian ORICA GREENEDGE  + 07' 01''

General Classification after Stage 4  

1  CANCELLARA Fabian      RADIOSHACK-NISSAN             20h 04' 02''
2  WIGGINS Bradley        SKY PROCYCLING                  + 00' 07''
3  CHAVANEL Sylvain       OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP         + 00' 07''
4  VAN GARDEREN Tejay     BMC RACING TEAM                 + 00' 10''
5  BOASSON HAGEN Edvald   SKY PROCYCLING                  + 00' 11''
6  MENCHOV Denis          KATUSHA TEAM                    + 00' 13''
7  EVANS Cadel            BMC RACING TEAM                 + 00' 17''
8  NIBALI Vincenzo        LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE             + 00' 18''
9  HESJEDAL Ryder         GARMIN-SHARP-BARRACUDA          + 00' 18''
10 KLÖDEN Andréas         RADIOSHACK-NISSAN               + 00' 19''

Points Classification after Stage 4  

1  SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE              147 pts
2  GOSS Matthew           ORICA GREENEDGE                   92 pts
3  GREIPEL André          LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM                87 pts
4  CAVENDISH Mark         SKY PROCYCLING                    86 pts
5  BOASSON HAGEN Edvald   SKY PROCYCLING                    81 pts

Mountains Classification after Stage 4  

1  MORKOV Michael         TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK        9 pts
2  BASSO Ivan             LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE                2 pts
3  SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE                2 pts
4  DELAPLACE Anthony      SAUR-SOJASUN                       2 pts
5  MONCOUTIE David        COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE         2 pts

Young Rider's Classification after Stage 4  

1  VAN GARDEREN Tejay     BMC RACING TEAM              20h 04' 12''
2  BOASSON HAGEN Edvald   SKY PROCYCLING                 + 00' 01''
3  TAARAMAE Rein          COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE     + 00' 12''
4  SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE            + 00' 13''
5  POELS Wouter           VACANSOLEIL-DCM                + 00' 14''

7 user comments

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Greipe or greipel or freudian? (line one)

J Andrew Hill

Its a marathon, not a snickers

...

JAndrewHill's picture

posted by JAndrewHill [1153 posts]
4th July 2012 - 17:40

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Eisel 4 stitches but he is fine, Cav okay.

posted by veseunr [263 posts]
4th July 2012 - 17:55

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I'm more concerned that Brad has not lost time to Evans due to the 3km rule. Meanwhile Cuddles has finished in front of the crashes. Team Sky really don't seem to have their head in the game. I know it's a different race all together and totally on a
different scale but even so Sky's calm unison of the Dauphine/Romandy is no where in sight. Devil Crying

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [361 posts]
4th July 2012 - 20:31

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really looks like having cav and wiggins together is not paying off. even though cav isn't officially going for green, and has proven he can sprint without a dedicated team, he is showing he can be vunerable for no potential jersey, and with siutsou out brad has less support than he might need.only time will tell but looks likes cracks are showing in the grand plan which is frustrating as i really wanted a GB maillot jaune Sad

posted by fretters [30 posts]
4th July 2012 - 21:05

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Hmmm, not sure if I couple of the comments are a bit harsh on Sky. In neither of the two crashes late on today and yesterday were they back in the field, they were well up towards the front, which is where people said they should have been riding last year when Wiggins crashed out.

These things happen in the Tour, particularly in the opening week. Cancellara knows more than anyone about riding in yellow (plus helping a team mate going for GC) and he was held up today... if he'd been on a different line, he could have gone down too.

Evans was ahead of the crash yesterday, but that's because it was a finish that really suited him so he was going for it, finished sixth after all. Most of the BMC riders seemed to be a fair way back today, so were able to get round the crash - it's a bit of a lottery in other words, if they'd bee right behind Sky, they'd have gone down too.

It's been a strange week with what are effectively a couple of mini classics thrown into break things up a bit.

I think it will be a different race in the mountains, and that's where all of the training Sky have done plus the experience built at Paris-Nice, Romandie and the Dauphine will come through. They'll miss Siustou, but I think they will adapt.

Keep the faith Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7480 posts]
4th July 2012 - 22:26

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Bit worrying that Brad has been saved from Cuddles twice in 2 days purely due to the 3km rule.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
4th July 2012 - 22:32

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Agree with everything Simon MacMichael said. Sky have just had some bad luck. Main objective is to get Bradley the overall win, but cannot ignore Cavs chance of a few more stage wins. EBH is obviously riding well and will be a big help to Brad in the mountains. No need to panic yet.

crazy diamond

chris.keelingroberts's picture

posted by chris.keelingroberts [9 posts]
4th July 2012 - 23:22

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