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Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) drags teammate Matt Goss to the finish in Rouen
Orica-GreenEdge sprinter narrows the gap on Sagan
The Australian had managed third place on the Tour's other flat stage so far, with the intermediate sprint points keeping him in the hunt. On Wednesday, while Stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) stayed out of the intermediate sprint, Mark Cavendish (Sky), Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) along with Goss and Sagan, fought it out.
Goss has now moved from fourth to second in the points classification, with Sagan leading on 147. Goss trails Sagan by 55 points.
"Our focus hasn't changed," said Orica-GreenEdge sports director Matt White. "We're still chasing the green jersey, and that means we need to get as many points as we can whenever we can. Sagan has a big lead, and as long as Gossy goes for the intermediate sprints, so will Sagan. So will Greipel. So will Cav'. We can't back off from the intermediate sprints if we want the green jersey."
Cavendish narrowly bettered Goss in the intermediate sprint with the pair zeroing in on the line, side-by-side.
"We didn't put too much effort into it, and we picked up points on some of our competitors," said White. "All said; it didn't go too bad."
Thursday's 196.5km fifth stage to Saint Quentin will be another opportunity for the sprinters but Goss will have to buck the trend with Cavendish having succeeded on Stage 5 in three of the past four seasons. Cavendish, who won the points classification in 2011, crashed with around 2.5km remaining on Wednesday along with key teammate Bernhard Eisel, and there will be interest in their recovery.
Involved in the same pile-up, was one of Orica-GreenEdge's key lead out men, Brett Lancaster, leaving Daryl Impey to guide Goss to the finish. In comparison, Greipel had the sheer weight of numbers on his side with Greg Henderson, Jurgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg all effectively ‘pinning' Goss in the final kilometre.
"... tried to jump but they were to (sic) fast," remarked Goss on twitter.
"To win stages of the Tour de France, we need to execute our plan 100 percent," said White. "We didn't execute 100 per cent today, and we didn't get the stage win. The only way to win stages at the Tour de France is to take the guesswork out of the final. It's extremely difficult to win against the best guys in the world without a well-executed plan."