Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) sprinted to his second straight stage victory at the Tour de France on Tuesday, winning a crash-marred stage 4 on the Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro.
Although the peloton took its time traveling the 181.8 km from Dax, the speed ramped up considerably in the finale, and as the sprint teams navigated one corner after another in a tricky finale, riders hit the deck in at least three separate crashes. Philipsen avoided the carnage, however, and his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammate Mathieu van der Poel took a big pull to set him up with some 250 meters to go, and then Philipsen launched and quickly surged into the lead.
Lotto-Dstny’s Caleb Ewan made a late push to close Philipsen down but the Belgian held on to take the win, his fourth ever at the Tour and his second in as many days. He now has a hefty advantage in the points classification as well. Ewan settled for second with Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) in third.
Despite all the crashes, the big GC favorites avoided mishaps in the finale. Adam Yates remains in the overall lead after four stages.
How it happened
- As fast as the sprinters charged towards the line in Nogaro, the rest of the stage was ridden at a much, much more relaxed pace, especially in the early goings. Ultimately, the peloton would not make it to the finish in Nogaro until 15 minutes after the slowest time schedule in the roadbook. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) would say afterward, “In the Tour I don’t remember us going so slow ever.”
- Things did pick up for the first intermediate sprint some 100 km into the day, where Philipsen took maximum points, taking over the green jersey lead in the process. Then, Anthony Delaplace (Cofidis) and Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën) finally accepted the burden of becoming the day’s (doomed) breakaway, a move that was never given much breathing room and that lasted until some 40 km remained.
- The peloton started to ramp up the pace as the finish line approached, and with a bit less than 5 km to go, Jumbo-Visma took over at the front, putting Wout van Aert into position to contest the sprint and keeping Jonas Vingegaard out of trouble as well. Over the next two minutes, though, the front of the race saw constant reshuffling as sprinters’ teams tried to get their riders into place.
- Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-QuickStep) went down hard in a crash as he and Philipsen battled for position going around a corner. Jakobsen’s would be the first of three crashes in the finale as riders navigated several turns at high speed. As another crash happened behind, Uno-X took over at the front with a few hundred meters to go, while Van der Poel worked his way into position a few riders back from the head of the race. In the process, the Dutchman made some rough contact with Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), for which Van der Poel was later fined and relegated.
- With 250 meters to go, Van der Poel took a massive pull, bringing Philipsen into position at the front. There was yet another crash behind as Philipsen launched. In any case, when the Belgian went, Ewan was the only rider able to challenge him, and he did come quite close to pulling even before the line. Philipsen, however, managed to hold on to take the win.
- Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
- Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny)
- Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious)
- Bryan Coquard (Cofidis)
- Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) all at same time
- Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates)
- Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) +6s
- Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) at same time
- Victor Lafay (Cofidis) +12s
- Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +16s
- There was never any doubt that this stage would come down a bunch kick on the Circuit Paul Armagnac, with no real breakaway move for the first two hours of the stage and little room given to the escapees that did go clear. In other words, the sprint teams were gearing up for sprint finish all day long.
- Jumbo led the way as the pace ramped up in the last few kilometers, and then several different teams put one or two riders at the front, driving a very high tempo through the final few technical corners. What had been a very relaxed stage suddenly became chaotic. Jakobsen, one of the stage favorites, was among those taken out of contention in crashes.
- Taking a similar approach to the one that worked on stage 3, Alpecin-Deceuninck was well-positioned but not quite on the front as the riders made their way through the final few hundred meters. Van der Poel, who led Philipsen out to perfection on Monday, then hit the front, setting up Philipsen to make his move with 200 meters to go. Ewan quickly powered up to speed and nearly pulled even on Philipsen’s left, but Philipsen survived and won the day. Bauhaus was a distant third.
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What’s next: Stage 5 preview
After two days for the sprinters, the climbers will like what’s coming on stage 5 from Pau to Laruns. As the race heads into the Pyrenees, riders will take on the first hors categorie climb of the Tour midway through the stage, the Col du Soudet. The third-category Col d’Ichère will then be an appetizer for the first-category final climb, the Col de Marie Blanque. The stage doesn’t finish there, however, with a descent and then a flat run to the line. All told, it will be a fine day to get into the break, as it will be a tricky stage to control. It could also be a day for the GC hopefuls to put time into each other.
Quote of the day
Philipsen was understandably grateful to have made it through the chaos on stage 4, and he pointed out that it was a narrow-run thing in the end that he was able to contest the sprint and ultimately win it.
“In the final kilometer entering the circuit, I also heard some crashes around me. I hope everybody is OK and safe. It was a bit of a hectic finale with the turns in the end. I lost my team as well but in the final straight I found Mathieu van der Poel again. He did an amazing pull to get me to victory, but my legs were cramping and Caleb was coming close.”
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