Cavendish wins the sprint and Van der Poel retains the Maillot Jaune
Mark Cavendish got his first win of the Tour de France 2021. A tremendous sprint, catching the breakaway just 200 metres from the finish line, and victory for the British rider.
Calm morning after days of chaos
The fourth stage of the Tour de France 2021 arrived, and it was more of the same: before tomorrow's time trial, the riders had only one goal in mind, which was to keep riding, to avoid the breaks, which so far there have been none, but above all the crashes, crashes that have multiplied in these first three stages to figures never seen before. It's a study to be made of this edition. Yesterday, among others, Ewan crashed in the sprint and abandoned with a broken collarbone, the same injury as Haig of Bahrain and Gesink of Jumbo. Bone difficult to heal. Bad luck.
The other side is that of Alpecin. Yesterday's stage for Merlier and Van der Poel keeps the yellow and avoids any incident. The Dutchman's team is undoubtedly excellent, controlling the race and winning stages.
According to the organisation's own data, the Redon start is the second time that the Tour has passed through this area. It did so in 2011. And in Redon there was also an image for history on this occasion: all the cyclists stopped and got off their bikes at kilometre 2. They got off their bikes to avoid falling because that is precisely what they are demanding: more dialogue and more safety in the face of the dantesque situation these days. It is not normal that every day there are a handful of crashes, some of them extremely dangerous.
The first breakaway attempt, at kilometre 10: Brent van Moer of Lotto and Pierre-Luc Perichon of Cofidis broke away and gained almost three minutes, thanks to a slower pace than yesterday, just over 40 kilometres in the first hour. But the gap was falling: it was impossible to ride away from the peloton without wind in the tail. And the same feeling: avoid crashes, catch the breakaway, and fight for the sprint.
Great Van Moer and victory for Cavendish
Among these incidents, there were some notable ones, such as the flat tyre of Enric Mas. The Mallorcan reacted very quickly and with Cortina pushing, he caught the group again. It looks like one of the best race options for Movistar given the circumstances: López lost two minutes and Soler had to retire after his fall.
But the most televised incident was undoubtedly the sight of Cavendish without a saddle. Literally. We don't know how or when he lost it but he had to ride without it until he could change bikes. A minor incident seen so far and a very good reaction also from Deceuninck Quick Step.
Not much spectacle in the intermediate sprint. Sagan is not well, he came in eighth position. After the first two escaped riders, it was Cavendish who came out on top. The two escapees were still fighting. Soon after, Perichon fell, but Van Moer gritted his teeth and started his solo fight. This is only seen in cycling and in mountaineering: when the time comes, touching the summit without looking back or to the sides. A luxury to see the sacrifice of many cyclists in the search for their minute of glory.
With 10 kilometres to go, the peloton completely dropped off the pace, and Van Moer's lead was reduced to a minute. The favourites all went to the front, whether to assume that the stage was lost or to save themselves from a crash on the final stage to Fougéres. And the Belgian was riding at his own pace. With three kilometres to go, he was 33 seconds ahead of the peloton. It was all very tight, and we were in suspense to see if Van Moer would make it. Because it is undoubtedly the most bitter taste: to be caught in the last kilometre after riding alone all day. To be caught 200 metres out is hell. Great Van Moer, but there was no prize.
Sprint finish, great work by Alaphilippe for Cavendish and the British rider did not fail. Spectacular victory, unbeatable in the sprint.
- Cavendish, M. - Deceunick Quick Step | 3:20:17
- Bouhanni, N. - Arkea Samsic | m.t.
- Philipsen, J. - Alpecin Fenix | m.t.
- Matthews, M. - Bike Exchange | m.t.
- Sagan, P. - Bora Hansgrohe | m.t.
- Van der Poel, M. - Alpecin Fenix | 16:19:10
- Alaphilippe, J. - Deceunick Quick Step | +8
- Carapaz, R. - Ineos Grenadiers | +31
- Van Aert, W. - Jumbo Visma | +31
- Kenderman, W. - Bora Hansgrohe | +38