Rigoberto Uran was happier than usual as he warmed down after stage 4 of the Tour de France to Sarzeau, knowing he saved his overall chances of success in this year's race after avoiding losing time in a late crash.
The EF Education First-Drapac team leader was caught up with other riders with just over five kilometres to go as the peloton accelerated and fought for position before a roundabout coming with four kilometres to go. A touch of wheels sent several riders scattering. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) went down hard and he suffered multiple cuts to his face and other parts of his body. He got up and finished the stage ten minutes down but Alex Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) fractured his collarbone and is out of the Tour de France.
"The most important thing was to not lose time," Uran explained as he warmed down.
"The great teamwork put me right back on the bunch after the crash and we could finish with the same time as the main pack. It's a long race, and it's hard to avoid crashing. We saw the dedication of the team today and that we're working very well together. That's something that gives us morale.
"Everything's fine, I am fine, it's all good. Tomorrow is a stage with a little bit more movement, and the most important thing is that everything is going well up to now."
Uran was lucky not to be injured.
Benoot went down in front of him and Taylor Phinney. Fortunately, Uran got up in a flash and young teammate Daniel Martinez – who is a similar size to his fellow Colombian, quickly gave him his bike so that he could start to chase.
Others riders were also chasing after the crash and with some quick-thinking and an all-out effort from teammates Simon Clarke and Sep Vanmarcke, Uran managed to make it to the tail of the peloton within two kilometres.
Uran finished the stage in 81st position, but importantly in the same time as stage winner Fernando Gaviria. Uran remains tenth overall, 35 seconds down on Greg van Avermaet.
The crash occurred outside the three kilometre to go point and so any time losses would stay in the results. Uran and EF Education First-Drapac avoided any time loss thanks an impressive team performance.
Other riders were not so lucky or strong, with 67 riders losing time. Amongst them was Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin). The Russian lost 59 precious seconds and slipped to 42nd overall, 1:51 down on Greg van Avermaet. It was a serious blow to his overall chances.
In other good news for the EF Education First-Drapac team, Lawson Craddock fought the pain of his fractured left shoulder blade and finished the stage. The team still has a full squad of eight riders and Uran still has a chance of repeating or even improving on his second place of last year.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.