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Gaviria takes second Tour stage win in thrilling sprint finish

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Gaviria (right) timed his sprint expertly but still had to re-take the lead just metres from the line

Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria held off Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel in a thrilling sprint finish to win stage four of the Tour de France in Sarzeau.

The Quick-Step Floors rider, who also won the Tour’s first stage, had to kick twice to deny Greipel after the German edged in front close to the line.

Sagan nipped in for second as Greipel faded after the peloton finally caught a four-man breakaway with 1km to go.

BMC Racing’s Greg van Avermaet retained the leader’s yellow jersey.

The Belgian, who took the overall lead on Monday, avoided a crash that split the peloton with 5km to go.

His team-mate Tejay van Garderen is second in the general classification, with Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas three seconds back in third.

Four-time winner Chris Froome finished safely in the bunch to remain 52 seconds further adrift, although he moved up one position to 17th, one place ahead of fellow Briton Adam Yates, after Katusha-Alpecin’s Ilnur Zakarin was caught behind the late crash.

“It was another stressful day and another big crash which only adds to the stress,” Thomas told BBC Radio 5 live.

“It was nice to get through unscathed. I felt pretty good but we will get more of a sense on Wednesday where we will get the first solid day.”

Mark Cavendish was caught out of position in the final stages and unable to contest the sprint.

Gav the new Cav?

Gaviria continues to make one of the most assured Tour debuts by a sprinter – he has won two of four stages, including taking the first yellow jersey of the race.

After a period in which Grand Tour sprints were dominated by Cavendish, Greipel and latterly Marcel Kittel, the 23-year-old’s performances so far suggest he is capable of supremacy.

This was more impressive than his opening stage win, taking the sprint out but still finding the power to kick again as Greipel threatened to blitz past.

With Gaviria also benefiting from the strength of his Quick-Step team, his early success here is reminiscent of how Cavendish, then also 23, announced himself with four stage wins at the 2008 Tour.

And with potentially five more sprint finishes to come, the other sprinters in the race face a daunting task to deny Gaviria more glory.

And what about Cav?

In contrast to Gaviria, Cavendish has looked short of form and confidence as he tries to add to his 30 stage wins in pursuit of Eddy Merckx’s record of 34.

The Briton did not feature on the opening two stages, when he or his Dimension Data team-mates got caught up in late crashes, but still could not contend despite avoiding the chaos here.

With the four-man breakaway – Dimitri Claeys, Anthony Perez, Guillaume van Keirsbulck and Jerome Cousin – threatening to outwit the peloton, Cavendish’s team took responsibility on the front to make the catch and lead the race on the left of a long drag to the finish.

But Cavendish soon found himself swamped and without a team-mate to follow as the race splintered in the final 500m, outflanked on the left by Quick-Step’s lead-out train and then ultimately cut off by Dylan Groenewegen.

Cavendish threw his hand up in protest at the Dutchman, but the leading trio had already surged well clear.

“I was pushed off [lead-out man] Mark Renshaw’s wheel and, in that block headwind, once you’re not on a wheel you have to put in double the watts,” Cavendish told ITV4.

“I thought the left side would be close but then it opened up and Quick-Step went through and I ended up blocked by my own lead-out man effectively, but it was my fault – I shouldn’t have been there.”

The hills arrive on stage five

Wednesday’s fifth stage is the first hilly one of the race as riders tackle five categorised climbs over 204km from Lorient to Quimper.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Cavendish said: “Although we don’t go to high altitude, the actual climbing kilometres will add up quickly because it is up and down all day on small roads with loads of lefts and rights.

“It will be important to stay near the front and keep your team around you. I don’t see a massive group coming in together in Quimper but it will be a group of one-day classics specialists and I expect to see something between Van Avermaet, Sagan and Michael Matthews.”

stage five profile

Stage four result

1. Fernando Gaviria (Col/Quick-Step Floors) 4hrs 25mins 1sec

2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

3. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal)

4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo)

5. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Katusha-Alpecin)

6. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE Team Emirates)

8. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo)

9. Dion Smith (NZ/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

10. Timothy Dupont (Bel/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

General classification after stage four

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 13hrs 33mins 56secs

2. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) same time

3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +3secs

4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +5secs

5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) +7secs

6. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) same time

7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) +11secs

8. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den/Sunweb) same time

9. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb)

10. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +35secs

Selected:

17. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +55secs

18. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min

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BBC Sport – Cycling

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