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Paris - Nice 2016: Stage 4

Stage 4 of Paris-Nice is well underway and we've got four riders out front with a 2:40 gap after 63km. The four men are Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Matthew Brammeier (Dimension Data), Florian Vachon (Fortuneo Vital Concept) and Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko Marseille Provence) and they made their break after just 5km.

 

The riders will be hoping for a much easier day after yesterday's stage was cancelled due to heavy snow. You can take a look at our gallery and read through some of the reactions right here

 

After yesterday's cancellation, the race website reports that the organisers have promised local authorities that they will be back to Mont Brouilly, where the stage was due to finish, next year.

 

No times were taken yesterday so the general classification remains as it was after stage 2, aside from a few abandons. This is how the top 10 looks at the moment. 

 

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 9:41:46
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:14
3 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:19
4 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
6 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:00:24
7 Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling 0:00:25
8 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:00:27
10 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team

 

122km remaining from 193km

The riders are approaching the first intermediate sprint of the day. The advantage of the four escapees has increased to 3:10.

 

Second-year professional Pierre-Roger Latour is making his Paris-Nice debut this year. The 22-year-old is from today's finish town of Romans-sur-Isère.

 

"It's the first UCI World Tour race in France this season and I'm glad to be part of it," he told Letour.fr "This type of races will help me improve. Moreover we're finishing in Romans-sur-Isere. It will be a day for sprinters but it's an extra pleasure. I have no pressure, I'm here to help our leaders as much as I can. But if a chance occurs, of course I will seize it,"

 

The work at the front is being shared by a number of teams including Michael Matthews' Orica-GreenEdge and Alexander Kristoff's Katusha team. Today is a chance for the sprinters and while Matthews already has two wins to his name, Kristoff is currently empty handed. Nacer Bouhanni will also be keen to put right the sprint finish of two days ago, where he was relegated for deviating from his line. 

 

If you are yet to catch up with what happened yesterday, you can read our full report here and watch the race highlights here

 

Michael Matthews is definitely among the favourites for today but his DS Laurenzo Lapage believes that tomorrow's stage finish is a much better chance for the Australian. 

 

"Of course Michael wants to win a third stage, but I believe tomorrow's stage suits him better than today's. Today's is more for pure sprinters," he said. "Tomorrow, we climb the Ventoux, but it's 80 km from the finish line so it shouldn't be a problem. Yesterday, there was no other option but cancelling the stage. But I'm not sure it would have changed much in the GC race. If the race had gone on, I think the escapees could have gone all the way. Michael is in great shape, he can look for a good GC standing. But winning Paris-Nice? No. Saturday's and Sunday's stages are too hard."

 

Brammeier has taken the points at the intermediate sprint. He's got 3 points in his back pocket now, although he has got a long way to go if he wants to catch up with Matthews' 38 points so far. 

 

We mentioned Alexander Kristoff before, as his team have been helping out on the front today. he sat down with Procycling Magazine earlier this year to discuss his return to the Classics in 2016. 

 

Kristoff was in confident form, telling Procycling that he fears no rival. Read the full article here

 

The average speed over the opening two hours of racing has been a decidedly calm 38.2kph.

 

103km remaining from 193km

The next point for the escapees will be the feedzone in about 6km. As the leaders make their approach the gap has come down to 2:30. 

 

If you wish to listen to something while following our live coverage, why not try our interview with Bradley Wiggins on the Cyclingnews Podcast as he tells us about his memories of the Olympic Games. 

 

The Cannondale team posted this picture from the start earlier today, showing that there is actually some sun around in France. It's not all snow and rain. 

 

 

93km remaining from 193km

The riders are through the feedzone and on their way to the next climb of the day and the gap between the peloton and escapees is back up to 3:20. 

 

The riders are currently between Mornant and the Cote de Givors. 

 

 

Away from the racing today and Team Sky's Benat Intxausti could be at risk of missing the Giro d'Italia after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. Read the full story here

 

86km remaining from 193km

The leaders are over the Cote de Givors and we are waiting for the results of the KOM. While we do wait, the gap has dropped back down to 2:45. Orica and Katusha doing a very good job of controlling things at the moment. 

 

Siskevicius crosses the line first and takes the full points available. Those four points and the ones he earned on the first climb of the day put him to the top of the points classification. There is still one more opportunity to increase his total. 

 

The riders are now moving from the Rhone region and into the Loire region, the next town visit will be Chavanay. From there the head into the Ardeche department for the second intermediate sprint of the day. 

 

Lunch time is over and the peloton have upped the pace again. The gap has dropped once more to 2:10. There is still a long way to go but they want to keep a watchful eye on the four escapees. 

 

As well as hunting out the victory, Orica-GreenEdge will be aware of the danger the break poses to the leader's jersey with Vachon the best placed in the general classification at just 1:24 behind Matthews. 

 

74km remaining from 193km

The speed is definitely ramping up and the third hour was taken at an average speed of 38.7kph. That is only going to increase as we near the finish line. 

 

Nacer Bouhanni had the stage 2 victory taken from him after a jury decision. He'll be looking to make one stick today and his team DS Didier Rous believes that he stands a chance of doing so. 

 

"If everybody is well positioned in the finale, there's no reason why it should not work out. Everybody saw he was in great shape," said Rous. 

 

68km remaining from 193km

The riders are on a small descent at the moment and the peloton is continuing to pull the four escapees back. For the first time in a long time today, the gap has fallen to just under a minute. 

 

Cofidis have thrown a few men onto the front to control this. Katusha are in there as well as are Etixx-QuickStep, who are also looking for a stage win today with Marcel Kittel. 

 

The conditions might be better than they were yesterday but riders are still well wrapped up. Race leader Michael Matthews is tucked into the peloton with his long sleeves on and a neck warmer on too. 

 

Direct Energie have Thomas Voeckler in the break but DS Lylian Lebreton doesn't think that the break will succeed. Speaking to French Television, Lebreton discussed the team's secondary options for today. 

 

""It looks very complicated as the sprinters teams have not left any margin. When Thomas Voeckler is in front, you try to limit the gap," he explained. "The sprinters beware of him. In case of a sprint, Adrien Petit could do well and we have other riders who can try to shake up the race if the finale permits, like Sylvain Chavanel."

 

55km remaining from 193km

The four escapees are working well together and they are holding the peloton off for now. It seems like a delaying of the inevitable rather than anything else for now. 

 

Another potential winner today is Arnaud Demare. He is sitting safely in the bunch for now, wearing the green jersey. He does not lead the points classification, that is Matthews, but he is wearing due to Matthews being in the yellow jersey. Demare has already won a stage here earlier this week. 

 

In the breakaway, Thomas Voeckler is the only former winner of a stage at Paris-Nice. Voeckler won two stages back in 2011, after which he would go on to finish fourth in the Tour de France. He has also won the mountains classification here in 2007. 

 

46km remaining from 193km

The leaders are into the final 50km, they're though the second intermediate sprint and closing in on the final climb of the day. It is a second category ascent and there is likely to be some competition for the points at the top. 

 

Some beautiful scenery as the riders pass through the Ardeche region. They've got mountains to their right and flat, open fields to their left. There won't be any time for them to take a look as they jostle for position ahead of this climb. 

 

Cannondale and Team Sky have put almost their entire teams up at the front of the bunch. Geraint Thomas is Sky's hope for the overall, with Pierre Rolland the man for Cannondale. Sky also have a stage hope in Ben Swift, who finished second on stage 1. 

 

40km remaining from 193km

AG2R La Mondiale also putting riders up front and this injection of pace has cut chunks out of the gap. The leaders have just 48 seconds now. 

 

We've finally got confirmation of the intermediate sprint. Voeckler went through first, taking three points and the two bonus seconds. Vachon followed him into second and Brammeier was third. 

 

38km remaining from 193km

Lots of teams trying to put representation at the front of the peloton. Perhaps a few are looking to get someone into a breakaway when our four escapees get close enough. LottoNL-Jumbo are one of those who have sent a man to the head of proceedings. 

 

The other Lotto team, Lotto-Soudal (or Lotto-Fix It as they're known for Paris-Nice) are also in the mix. They've got Andre Greipel in their arsenal, who is surely a contender for today. 

 

The leaders are onto the Côte de Saint-Uze a 2.8km climb that averages 6.5 per cent.

 

Matt Brammeier looks to be the first of the escapees to struggle on this climb as Voeckler puts the hurt on. 

 

33km remaining from 193km

Voeckler is now out there alone as his former break companions are brought back by the peloton. 

 

Crash in the peoton

 

There is a touch of wheels in the peloton and a number of Sky riders go down including Geraint Thomas. He is back on his bike though. 

 

Dimension Data are the ones pushing the pace on the front of the peloton now as Marcel Kittel begins to struggle. 

 

Mechanical problem for Kristoff on this climb. It's all kicking off. 

 

32km remaining from 193km

All of this chaos is good news for Voeckler who keeps plugging along on his own with a 50 second gap. 

 

Demare has also been dropped from the peloton. It is not the end of the day for those sprinters who have been dropped there is still plenty of time to make it back on, if they have the legs that is. 

 

31km remaining from 193km

Kittel has Vandenbergh and Sabatini with him to help pace him back after the climb. 

 

Another crash and Nathan Haas gets a corner wrong and goes right off the road. Let's hope he is ok. 

 

Haas has ended up in a field. He's not got up right away but he is sitting up. 

 

We'll bring you any news on Haas when we get it. 

 

27km remaining from 193km

In the meantime, Lars Boom has attacked and has taken a couple of riders with him. 

 

This is the moment that things went south for Haas. 

 

 

Lots of riders going off the front now, including Romain Bardet and Tom Jelte Slagter. 

 

24km remaining from 193km

Kittel and his Ettix-QuickStep teammates are a minute behind the peloton. There is a big string of riders who were dropped on that climb coming along with them.

 

Voeckler remains out front alone with a small gap of 30 seconds. 

 

Amongst all that action on the final climb, Siskevicius confirmed himself as the holder of the mountains classification jersey for tomorrow. 

 

A group of three riders has now formed behind Voeckler. They are led by his teammate Sylvain Chavanel. Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Delio Fernandez (Delko Marseille) are also there and tey are just 15 seconds back. 

 

21km remaining from 193km

Correction, that three-man chase group has caught Voeckler and collectively they are 30 seconds ahead of the peloton. Meanwhile, Kittel and his teammates are closing the gap behind the peloton and are now 30 seconds back. 

 

Lotto-Soudal has sprung into action and have put Thomas De Gendt on the front of the peloton. De Gendt was in the breakaway yesterday when the stage was cancelled. 

 

In Italy, the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico has just come to a close with Zdenek Stybar taking the stage win from a late breakaway. You can find the report, results and gallery here.

 

18km remaining from 193km

It's not going quite so well for Etixx-QuickStep here as they continue their chase of the peloton. 

 

The four escapees have just 13 seconds on the bunch and Lieuwe Westra and Tim Wellens are trying to bridge the gap. 

 

It appears that Voeckler has been dropped by the front group and caught by the peloton. Chavanel is still out there for Direct Energie. 

 

15km remaining from 193km

The escapees are really pushing it but the peloton is close behind and when they look over their shoulders they can see them looming in the background. With 15km to go the gap is just 19 seconds. 

 

Arnaud Demare won't be contesting the finish, he has just climbed off and abandoned. He may have got caught in that crash with Thomas but we don't have confirmation of that yet. 

 

13km remaining from 193km

We have found Voeckler again, he is now hanging onto the back of the peloton. It is Vanmarcke pushing the pace in the break. He'd like a good result before the classics resume. They've got 23 seconds on the bunch now. 

 

The Kittel group seems to be fighting a losing battle and they are now some 40 seconds behind the peloton. With just 12km to go their chance at making it back is looking more and more slim. 

 

Westra and Wellens have given up the chase and are brought back. The plucky trio out front have just 11 seconds now. This is going in and out like a yo-yo.

 

After Kristoff suffered a mechanical problem, Katusha are back on the front of the peloton, which is getting ever smaller. 

 

Bouhanni made it over that final climb and is also in that reducing bunch. 

 

These are some wide flat plains that the riders are passing through and the peloton can clearly see the escapees up the road. That will certainly help them in their chase. 

 

8km remaining from 193km

Shots of the bunch show that Matthews is still in there, albeit well back. The gap to the escapees is hovering just over the 10km mark. 

 

Sorry 10 seconds for the escapees. 

 

Katusha really pushing things and there are several riders feeling the strain at the back of the peloton. Giant-Alpecin are also near the front, they'll be protecting Dumoulin who is their GC man. 

 

4km remaining from 193km

Vanmarcke, Chavanel and Fernandez still out front and they've got 18 seconds now with Katusha furiously trying to shut the break down. 

 

Lagutin peels off and leaves it to the next Katusha man to do the work. Cofidis now moving forward to give a hand. 

 

3km remaining from 193km

The sprint teams may well have got this wrong and the victory could be between the three men out front. 

 

17 seconds still for the leaders with Vanmarcke on the front. 

 

It's a big red group at the front of the peloton. Still Katusha and Cofids working hard, can they do it?

 

1km remaining from 193km

12 seconds for the escapees. 

 

Cofidis turning themselves inside out to catch these three we're under the flamme rouge and the gap is 10 seconds. 

 

The peloton keep getting glimpses of the leaders but there's no catch yet. 

 

Catch made now

 

Bouhanni wins

 

The effort of the Cofidis team paid off in the end. Bouhanni sat in the wheel of Theuns until around 50 metres to go and launched his sprint. He had Kristoff and Greipel behind him but neither had the speed to pass him. 

 

Michael Mathews was also part of that sprint but could only manage fifth. 

 

Here is the top 10 from today's stage. 

 

1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 04:42:26
2 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
7 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
9 Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data
10 Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin

 

Matthews has retained his overall lead with a 14-second advantage over Tom Dumoulin. 

 

This is how the top 5 looks in the general classification after that stage. 

 

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 14:24:15
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:00:14
3 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:00:19
4 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky

 

Michael Matthews also keeps hold of his lead in the points classification. Bouhanni moves up to second following the abandon of Demare earlier today. 

 

No news yet on where Marcel Kittel finished today, but he will be very disappointed to have been dropped on that final climb. 

 

Despite their battle two days ago, Nacer Bouhanni and Michael Matthews shake hands behind the podium. 

 

 

Once they realised that they wouldn't make it back for the sprint finish, Etixx-QuickStep obviously turned down the pace and Kittel rolled in over four minutes down on today's winner. 

 

We've already begun compiling today's report and results, photos will follow soon. Find it all right here

 

Despite 28 riders failing to sign on this morning, there are only two abandons from today's stage. Nathan Haas obviously retired from the race after crashing and ending up in a field. Arnaud Demare was the other one. His team say that he had a knee problem as a result of the cold yesterday. 

 

Just three stages remain for the riders. Tomorrow's stage has a flat finish perfect for someone with a fast finish but if they want to be in with a chance they will have to take on five climbs, including Mont Ventoux. They won't be going the whole way up but it will make for a very difficult day in the saddle. 

 

This is what the peloton will have to take on tomorrow.

 

 

We've got the first images from today's stage, plus full results and a report. You can find it all here

 

That is it from us today. Tune in tomorrow for more Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. 

 

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