Daniel McLay continues sprinting consistency in Limoges
Fortuneo - Vital Concept's Great Britain sprinter Dan McLay was ninth on his Tour de France debut in Utah Beach and ninth again in the second field sprint of the race into Angers. The 24-year-old, on his grand tour debut, continued his good start to the Tour as he rode to seventh place in Limoges.
"It was a finish that suited me. I am seventh which is a good result but above all I learn the lessons of each sprint. I will do the next with more confidence. I'll try play my chance 100 per cent. I learn every time," said McLay.
McLay joined the French Pro-Continental team last year, winning a stage of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, and has taken two wins in his second neo-pro season including GP de Denain through an impressive final surge.
He also won the Grand Prix de la Somme and recorded several top-ten results in stages of Tour de Picardie, Baloise Belgium Tour, Boucles de la Mayenne and the Route de Sud.
With six catergorised climbs on stage 5, McLay's next opportunity for a spring finish is expected to come on stage 6 into Montauban.
Fortuneo - Vital Concept's Dan McLay, far light, after crossing the line in Limoges (Getty Images Sport)
Aggressive IAM Cycling on longest stage of the 2016 Tour
Oliver Naesen and Sondre Holst Enger are both making their Tour de France debuts in 2016 with IAM Cycling and both riders are making a mark on the race. The Belgian Naesen animated the stage 4 breakaway along with Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) and Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon18) and was rewarded with the most aggressive prize and €2000.
"This is a great reward for my first Tour de France, and especially since I’m not scorched," he said of the day long breakaway.
With Naesen and Irizar reeled in with seven kilometres to go, IAM Cycling focused on delivering Holst Enger into prime position for the sprint into Limoges. Despite sixth place for the second day running, the Norwegian 'dancer' expressed his displeasure with the result
"The last kilometres was really hard to get in the front but in the last climb I was closer, and closer to the font. It was a difficult last kilometres because it was downhill and a really hard sprint, 500m slowly up. I my legs stopped with 100m left so I am a little bit disappointed but you always want to do better," said the youngest rider in the race at 22.
Adding to his disappointment was Holst Enger's explanation there is little else on offer before the final sprint on stage 21 in Paris.
We will see, some stages are possible to do good but we will see," he said forlornly.
Dylan Groenewegen getting better
LottoNL-Jumbo's Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen Tour de France is getting better by the day with the 23-year-old over the stomach issues that saw him miss the team presentation on Friday. 23rd on debut in Utah Beach on stage 1, Groenewegen improved to 10th place on stage 3 but it was in Limoges where he put hi his most impressive sprint yet to claim fourth place.
"We're improving. It was tough, but we did a good job with the team. This time, I'm satisfied. I didn't feel very strong, actually, but Sep Vanmarcke told me that I would be able to pass through that feeling. I got over it and went for it," said Groenewegen.
"We were still in front with four of us for the final. I was boxed in for a while during the sprint, but found some space afterwards to finish fourth. I came from quite far behind, but was able to come back quite strongly. It's my own fault that I had to come from too far behind, I needed to be further up. My sprint was strong so this is promising for the upcoming stages."
Groenewegen added that "If everything comes together, I might be able to win a stage in this Tour."
Following an opening week that was suited to the sprinters, the Tour takes to the massif central today with a finish that is likely to suit a breakaway or potentially see the first GC tussle of the race. Either way, sports director Merijn Zeeman is hoping to see both Wilco Kelderman and George Bennett feature in the finish.
FDJ and Pinot looking forward to first climbing tests
Thibaut Pinot's overall hopes took a hit on stage 4 of the 2015 Tour de France, losing over three minutes on the pave to Cambrai. Fast forward to 2016 and the FDJ rider is well placed on the general classification ahead of stage 5 to Montauban.
Sports director Yvon Madiot, who enjoyed the Tour passing through his home town of Renazé on stage 3, explained the 26-year-old is eager to leave the flat roads behind and get into the high mountains.
"Tonight Thibaut is not very talkative," said Yvon Madiot after stage 4. "The flat stages have to be survived and he wants a climb every day. Tomorrow, it's not the mountains but he will happily tackle the four climbs and be on the small chainring. Frankly, it's good to do so after four days and not at the end of a full week. My team is more comfortable in the mountains than on the flat. And it's time for us to climb."
Pinot sits 31st place overall, 11 seconds in arrears to GC rivals Chris Froome (Team Sky), Fabio Aru (Astana), and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) ahead of the fifth stage and should move into the top-20 following what is expected to be a selective day in the saddle.
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