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First-ever Tour de France stage win for Italian sprinter after yellow jersey helps on leadout

Elia Viviani of Deceuninck-Quick Step has won Stage 4 of the Tour de France in Nancy – his first ever victory at the race – with his team-mate Julian Alaphilippe, winner of yesterday’s stage into Epernay, remaining in the overall lead.

On the second of the day’s Catgeory 4 climbs, crested 15 kilometres from the finish, Team Sunweb forced the pace at the front of the bunch, trying to distance sprinters including Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen and increase the chances of Michael Matthews taking victory.

The group was all together as they went over the top, however, and while Direct-Energie’s Lilian Calmejane launched a solo attack shortly afterwards, the sprinters’ teams would not be denied.

Into the closing 2 kilometres and two jersey wearers were performing leadout duties – best young rider Wout van Aert, working for Groenewegen, and yellow jersey Alaphilippe, riding for Viviani.

Three riders got away in the break early on in the 213.5-kilometre stage from Reims – CCC Team’s Michael Schar and the Wanty-Gobert pairing of Frederik Backaert and Yoann Offredo, the latter also in the break yesterday.

Stage winner Elia Viviani

This victory means a lot to me. Actually, I can’t believe that I won today, it’s crazy. Notching up a stage here at the Tour de France was one of my season’s biggest goal, and having achieved it thanks to the team’s outstanding work makes me very, very happy.

With 1 kilometre to go I felt that everything was going perfect and was really confident. Then, when Kristoff anticipated the sprint, I was ready to go, but Max’s experienced played again a huge role and I waited a bit before opening my sprint close to the barriers.

Julian’s win in Épernay motivated us and I’m glad I could keep the team’s streak going. I don’t have enough words to tell you how proud I am to have this incredible team around me: Yves and Dries worked hard, Michael and Max provided a perfect lead and having yellow jersey Julian pulling for me in the final was truly special.

Race leader Julian Alaphilippe

For sure this was a very special day I will never forget. Since when I woke up… When I went to the start line, I felt things I’d never felt before. The public, the cries… It was something special. I’ve felt the difference to a normal day. It’s a different world.

On the peloton, everyone was happy about me. I heard my first name every 10 seconds today. It’s hard to explain. I don’t chase popularity: I just want to make people happy. But we also had something to do for Elia and that special day ended the best possible way with his stage win and keeping the yellow jersey.

Tomorrow it will be harder. For sure, we will continue to defend the jersey. If I lose it, it’ll mean someone will beat us but I won’t give up.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.