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Tour de France 2010: Stage 4


Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage four of the Tour de France.

The flat 153.5km stage brings the peloton from Cambrai to the beautiful cathedral city of Reims.

The peloton is currently rolling through Cambrai in the neutral section before the flag is dropped. The action will begin soon. Cambrai last hosted a start in 2004.

153km remaining from 153km

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) is among the starters, but he says he won’t be sprinting today. He broke his wrist in the Ardennes on Monday, but somehow came through the cobbles yesterday. “I hope to be able to sprint again by the second week of racing. I think I'll need a few more days to let the swelling go down and everything, before being competitive again," he said afterwards.

The first attack of the day has shot off the front. Dmitri Champion (Ag2r) sparked it, and he's been joined by Iban Mayoz (Footon-Servetto), Nicolas Vogondy (Bbox-Bouygues Telecom), Francis De Greef (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

148km remaining from 153km

The last time the Tour had a stage to Reims in 2002, Robbie McEwen sprinted to victory. He's comfortably in the peloton at the moment. Although "comfortably" might be the wrong word, he's bandaged up and still bearing the scars of a crash on Monday's stage.

144km remaining from 153km

The breakaway is approaching the first sprint of the day.

141km remaining from 153km

The riders are keen to ease their way into today's stage after what must have seemed like riding back to back classics on Monday and Tuesday. They'll be glad the organisers haven't opted to continue the classics theme today. When the Tour came here in 1991, the stage was an incredible 286km jaunt from Dijon, almost as long as Milan-San Remo!

Djamolidine Abdoujaparov pipped Olaf Ludwig and Sean Kelly in the sprint that day by the way. The stage took almost eight hours! The peloton will be glad today’s distance is a little more manageable, at a shade over 150km.

134km remaining from 153km

Lance Armstrong isn't looking particularly happy in the peloton. He had a tough day yesterday on the cobbles. “Sometimes you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail. Today I was the nail. I’ve had plenty days when I was the hammer,” said Armstrong afterwards.

131km remaining from 153km

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Transitions) punctured, but he got a quick change and is making his way back up to the bunch. Meanwhile the gap to the break is beginning to come down slightly.

124km remaining from 153km

Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has crashed. He's being attended to by the race doctor and is pedalling quite gingerly for now.

121km remaining from 153km

Fabian Cancellara is looking pleased to be back in the maillot jaune. He can't have been too impressed with the Gazzetta dello Sport headline of "Cancellara Vroom Vroom", although they were quick to point out that "his legs are the motor."

Francis De Greef has finished in 21st place in each of the last three grand tours that he has ridden, the Giro and Vuelta in 2009 and this year's Giro. Wonder where he's aiming to finish in his debut Tour.

114km remaining from 153km

The break is now on the fourth category climb of the Côte de Vadencourt. Nobody here is any danger to Jerome Pineau's polka dot jersey.

The sprint for the points is not contested. Iban Mayoz leads over the top.

The peloton sweeps over the top of the climb 2:15 back. Txurruka is not looking comfortable at the rear of the bunch.

106km remaining from 153km

It's hard to know why RadioShack are so visible a presence at the front today. Perhaps they are trying to rebuild morale after yesterday. In any case, Saxo Bank will no doubt be pleased that so far they haven't had to control the race to defend Cancellara's lead.

104km remaining from 153km

For those of you playing our Easton-Cyclingnews Wheelset a Day Giveaway during the Tour de France, here is your trivia question for the day:
Who has won the most green jerseys?

98km remaining from 153km

Andy Schleck is chatting with Cancellara. The loss of his brother Frank will doubtless be a blow to his morale, but perhaps he will now be freer to ride his own race. Last year, it could be argued that the younger Schleck focused a little too much on trying to get his brother onto the podium alongside him.

It's good to know that the incomparable Laurent Fignon is analysing this year's Tour for French television. You can read about how he is combining his commentary duties with his battle against cancer here. One of my earliest (and faintest, unfortunately) Tour memories was being on the roadside to see Fignon struggle in the team time trial at the 1988 Tour. He was suffering from a tapeworm malady at the time, but he still turned the pedals with a class that no-one else in his Systeme U squad could match. Everybody at Cyclingnews wishes him well.

87km remaining from 153km

RadioShack are still grouped towards the front of the peloton. Cadel Evans is well-placed and looking very comfortable in his rainbow jersey.

The break are on a long straight false flat. If they look over their shoulders, they'll be able to see the peloton in the distance. Not good for morale.

84km remaining from 153km

The peloton has come through the feed without any drama, it's all still quite relaxed.

Interesting to note that the two Frenchmen in the break today are former French road race champions. Vogondy won in 2002 and 2008 (and took the time trial title this year), while Champion was, er, champion last year.

76km remaining from 153km

The best performance of Iñaki Isasi's career came in the 2006 Tour, when he finished 3rd on stage five behind Oscar Freire. He's a decent sprinter, but doesn't quite have the turn of pace to turn placings into victories it seems.

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Bole is still putting in a great shift on the front of the peloton for Lampre.

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The leaders are now zipping through the golden fields of the Champagne region with a minute's advantage over the bunch.

Kanstantsin Siutsou (HTC-Columbia) and Grega Bole (Lampre-Farnese Vini) have done some sterling work for their sprinters today. That duo has been leading the peloton for the past 10km, with RadioShack stacked in their wheels.

35km remaining from 153km

Lampre are starting to push men forward to get things ready for Alessandro Petacchi. It's hard to believe that AleJet hadn't ridden the Tour (for a variety of reasons) since 2004. He'll be pleased with his work so far, though he will be hard pushed to match his achievements of 2003, when he took four stages in the opening week.

The closer we get to Reims the more the pace will rise from here on in.

There's been virtually no wind to cause the peloton to break up and form echelons today so it's hard to see the winner coming in alone today mind.

29km remaining from 153km

Cervelo have eased off a little again. They don't want to catch the breakaway too soon. The gap is back up to 0:40.

26km remaining from 153km

Damiano Cunego's bad luck at this Tour is continuing. He's off the back of the bunch, chasing hard to get on. It's not clear what happened but he must have had some kind of mechanical problem. Now he's just made the coat-tails of the peloton.

23km remaining from 153km

The last 5km of today's stage are littered with roundabouts. It could well be a very technical run-in. The red kite is in the shadow of Reims' spectacular cathedral. The finishing straight of Boulevard de la Paix is 1.1km in length.

20km remaining from 153km

This is a crucial stage in Mark Cavendish's Tour de France. He has a grand total of one point in the green jersey classification thus far. He needs a win today to get back into the hunt for green.

Speaking of which, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) is resplendant in green today. He's also up near the front of the pack now. The heads of state of the sprinting world are beginning to assemble for a summit meeting...

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Dmitri Champion is pressing hard on the front once again. It's hard to single one of the breakaways out over the other today, however, all five have done their bit. Shame it won't be enough.

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De Greef has been dropped by the breakaway and caught by the pack.

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Cervelo leading it out for Hushovd.

Petacchi goes first!

Petacchi holds on to take the win, a great victory for the Italian. He pipped Julian Dean and Edvald Boassan Hagen to the line.

Cavendish didn't have the legs in the finale. He sat up at the end. Julian Dean was closing fast on Petacchi at the finish. Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter were 4th and 5th.

No change to the overall classification.

Alessandro Petacchi will have moved up the green jersey rankings with that victory.


General classification:

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) finished in 23rd, in spite of his broken wrist.

That's all for the live report for today, thanks for joining us. A great win for Alessandro Petacchi, who has shown that his win on Sunday was not by chance.

Provisional stage result:

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 3:34:55
2 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
5 Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Transitions
6 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
7 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
9 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
10 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank

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