Tour de France 2012: Stage 4
The day belongs to the sprinters
By Larysa Pachulski, 4:20PM, Thu. Jul. 5, 2012
Stage 4 begins in Abbeville and ends in Rouen for a total of 214.5 km (133 miles).
A few category-4 climbs in today's stage, but make no mistake, the day belongs to the sprinters. There will be one midstage sprint, and then the sprint for the finish line. Will Peter Sagan (Slovakia) get the best of Mark "The Manx Missile" Cavendish today? Already since Tour 2012 has begun, Sagan has become the youngest rider to win a stage at the Tour since a young cyclist by the name of Lance Armstrong, perhaps you've heard of him?
Speaking of Americans, it is our nation's birthday. This time last year American sprinter Tyler Farrar became the first ever American to win a stage on the Fourth of July. Will he go for a consecutive Fourth of July stage win this year?
• Yukiya Arashiro (Japan) attacks as soon as the flag drops commencing the stage, resulting in a break away of three men, Arashiro, David Moncoutie (France), and Anthony Delaplace (France). Arashiro is one of only two Japanese riders to complete the Tour de France. In 2009 both Arashiro and Fumiyuki Beppu rode into Paris. Arashiro started today's stage at 2 minutes and 3 seconds behind Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) who is in yellow, and already at less than 20 km (12.5 miles) into the stage, Arashiro is the virtual Tour de France winner. Moncoutie, on the other hand, is retiring this year, so he'll most certainly be looking to go out with at least one stage win. • Quick Aside: Australian rider Michael Rogers sheds some light on one of the more dangerous aspects of the Tour de France: digital cameras! According to Rogers, everyone steps too far out into the road to take their pictures. Good point, we've already seen one crash caused by a photographer-fan this Tour (Stage 1). Incidentally, how old do you have to be to remember when they're weren't digital cameras at the Tour?
• So far uncontested King of the Mountains Michael "Scout" Morkov is nowhere to be seen! Instead, both Moncoutie and Delaplace split the available Polka Dot points in today's stage, creating an official rank:
• Michael "Scout" Morkov: 9 points
• David Moncoutie: 2 points
• Anthony Delaplace: 2 points
Ok, so our beloved Scout is still undefeated, but the climbs are only going to get bigger and steeper from here! Scout, where you at?
• RadioShack Nissan Trek rider Jens Voigt (German) leads the peloton again. Within 10 minutes, the gap between the peloton and the break away drops from 8 minutes, 35 seconds to 7 minutes, 35 seconds. To all of you young riders in the Tour, you do know that you have literally been carried through each stage by the oldest man in the Tour, right? Where is everyone's precious Sagan (or, "The Tourminator" as I believe he has named himself)? Yesterday, Voigt was overheard saying to teammate Yaroslav Popovych, "I'm not working today. I want more money". For more classic Jens quotes, click here.
￼￼￼￼￼ • During the midstage sprint, it looked like Matty Goss (Australia) was going to make it for the win, but Cav, pulling out late, still beat Goss to the finish. A valiant effort by the Australian, but Cav is just simply faster.
• At around the 54 km (33.5 miles) mark, the peloton rides into some wet weather. Lo and behold, not 7 miles later there is a crash at the back of the peloton. All affected riders eventually make it back to the peloton.
• At 38 km (23 miles) to the finish line, Arashiro tries to attack, but is caught. However, Arashiro has been named the most aggressive rider of the day, and can rest easy knowing that he will be receiving the coveted "Fighting Spirit" prize. Which sounds more like the award you would give to the child who caught the "deadest fish" at the fishing derby.
• After a brief respite, Voigt moves back up to the front of the peloton, the break away's gap drops to 2'10", and Voigt gets a bonus of $0.25 on his next pay check.
• Nearing the end of the stage, the break away of three riders is caught. • At 2 miles to the finish line, the second crash of the day occurs, taking out lead sprinter Mark Cavendish and his Sky team leader Bradley Wiggins (Britain).
At 1 mile to go, it is clear that Cavendish will not be competing for the sprint. Good news for his competition who will now be gearing up for the sprint finish.
André Greipel wins the stage beating out Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), Tom Veelers (Netherlands), Goss, and Sagan, making this Greipel's second Tour de France stage win.
This must be a particularly bitter sight for Cav (who is probably lying half dead on the tarmac right now). Last year Greipel actually beat Cavendish in a sprint for the finish line and won his first Tour de France stage.
Ahem, where the eff was Tyler Farrar in the final sprint?! He didn't even make an attempt! It's the effing Fourth of July, pal! Honestly! You just made Glenn Beck cry.
Jersey Lineup End of Stage 4
• Yellow Jersey (best overall): Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RadioShack Nissan Trek
• White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
• Green Jersey (best sprinter): Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
• Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains): Michael Morkov (Denmark) Saxo Bank
Top 10 After Stage 4
1) Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RNT
2) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
3) Sylvain Chavanel (France) OmegaPharma-QuickStep
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
5) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Sky
6) Denis Menchov (Russia) Katusha
7) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
8) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
9) Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) BMC
10) Andréas Klöden (Germany) RadioShack Nissan Trek