Alpecin-Deceuninck scored a beautiful triumph amid the chaos of today’s sprint finish of the Tour de France’s fourth stage when Mathieu van der Poel pulled Jasper Philipsen out of the finishing group and dropped him off on the front, where Philipsen was just able to hold off Lotto DSTNY’s Caleb Ewan by half a wheel for the victory.
The finishing plan on the motor speedway in Nogaro capped a quiet day of the Tour with some ten minutes of madness, as the peloton roared to life heading into the car circuit, around a few tricky bends and into the curves of the race track. Three separate crashes occurred inside the car circuit, where Soudal-Quick Step’s Jasper Philipsen went down with Lotto’s Jacopo Guarnieri, then two more riders went into the barriers on the final turn, before one last snafu by a UNO-X rider sitting up foolishly cost a Cofidis rider a trip to the tarmac. Guarnieri and Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana seemed injured, though everyone else escaped apparent harm.
Up front, Jumbo Visma finally let go of the reins with Wout Van Aert missing the finale, leaving several hopeful teams still, including Astana’s Mark Cavendish in search of a career-record-setting stage victory. But it was not to be for Cav (yet), or anyone else harboring regrets from the previous day’s sprint. Van der Poel, the classics powerhouse, found the Alpecin-Deceuninck train broken up and himself stuck by the right side barriers inside the final kilometer, when he managed to ease his way left, into the open space, where Philipsen reconnected with him. Van der Poel unleashed his legendary power, rocketed to the front, and dropped Philipsen off in perfect position, just in time for him to hit the line ahead of a fast-closing Ewan. Phil Bauhaus of Bahrain, second yesterday, was third today, while Cavendish moved up to fifth place behind Cofidis sprinter Bryan Coquard.
Philipsen’s win, combined with his intermediate stage sprint success, garnered him 70 points on the day, and the Belgian is now clear of the competition for Green by that very amount. Wout Van Aert, last year’s maillot vert, was 8th in the sprint today, indicating that he might kick his points campaign to the next level soon — possibly tomorrow in the Pyrénées, which kicks off the mountains phase with a fairly tame stage, capping out the climbing 20km from the finish. For now, it’s been a disappointing start to the Tour, and probably irritating watching his rival van der Poel dash Jumbo’s stage designs, but Van Aert and Jumbo will look to turn things around tomorrow. No changes elsewhere on GC, with Adam Yates still in yellow and Tadej Pogacar still in second place and the white jersey.
- PHILIPSEN Jasper, Alpecin-Deceuninck, 4:25:28
- EWAN Caleb, Lotto Dstny
- BAUHAUS Phil, Bahrain - Victorious
- COQUARD Bryan, Cofidis
- CAVENDISH Mark, Astana Qazaqstan Team
- VAN POPPEL Danny, BORA - hansgrohe
- KRISTOFF Alexander, Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
- MEZGEC Luka, Team Jayco AlUla
- VAN AERT Wout, Jumbo-Visma
- PEDERSEN Mads, Lidl - Trek
Dax - Nogaro 181.8 km
Another big day for the sprinters. Good luck finding a sacrificial lamb to go in the breakaway today when everyone fully expects a sprint.
Expected finish time: 17:10-17:35 CEST
Armagnac of the Day : Fabio Jakobsen
The finish is on a moto racing circuit which usually creates its own weird dynamic but I think it opens up for Soudal-QS to get it right for Fabio this time around.