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Tour de France 2013: Stage 4


Hello and welcome to stage 4 of the Tour de France.

We're back on mainland France after three stages on the island of Corsica with a team time trial in Nice.

Team time trials have tended towards shorter distances in the Prudhomme era, as the Tour de France director is keen to avoid teams that aren't blessed with a strong group of rouleurs being dumped out of the contest for the GC with the race only a few days old. That said, this is a flat course with plenty of long straights where stronger teams will be able to sustain very high speeds. There are also some tight-ish corners, so those outfits that have been working on their strategy should be able to gain some useful time.

It is instructive to look back at the time gaps recorded in the Tour's last team time trial at Les Essarts in 2011. The course that day was 23km long and similar to this in terms of profile and number of corners. Garmin won it, putting Thor Hushovd in yellow, while six other teams finished within 12 seconds - Katusha and Movistar were among seven teams losing more than a minute.

Omega Pharma the world time trial champions have just started their TTT. They're off smoothly around the first few corners.

The team would be favourites if it wasn't for the crashes that took down the likes of Tony Martin.


Argos are currently on the road at the moment having started first today.

The Dutch team still have all 9 riders left as they shift through the opening kilometres. The first section of the TTT is the most technical and that's where teams will probably make mistakes. The well drilled teams, Garmin, Sky, Movistar will be looking to take advantage.

In this video Jonathan Vuaghters talks about the TTT.

Vaughters was part of the Credit Agricole team that won this event back in 2001 and he guided Garmin to the win in 2011, with Thor Hushovd taking yellow.


As Lotto now start this TTT.

The Lotto-Belisol team from GC-rider Jurgen Van den Broeck is due to start as second team at 15:19. “That’s a benefit,” said sports director Herman Frison to Cyclingnews. “We will have done a recon of the course and shortly after that we can already ride our race. It’ll be fresh in the minds of the riders.” Van den Broeck finished fourth in the Tour de France of 2010 & 2012 and he was confident ahead of the team time trial. “I’m not only thinking about controlling damages but also about gaining time on some riders,” Van den Broeck said. Two years ago the Omega Pharma-Lotto team with Van den Broeck finished tenth at 39s from winner Garmin-Cervélo on the 39km long course of Les Essarts. Back in 2009 the team was led by Cadel Evans and they didn’t wait when Van den Broeck crashed away early.


Here's where we stand in GC coming into the stage. We can expect a shift in the yellow jersey but really there are a number of riders in the mix.

1 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 12:21:27
2 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun 0:00:01
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
6 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
7 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
8 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

David Millar lost yellow in the TTT during the 2000 Tour de France but is one of the favourite to pull on the jersey come the end of the stage. The Scot won a stage in the race last year, and was part of Garmin's TTT winning team in 2011. The American squad have a decent team this time around too.

As Cannodale, who have helped Sagan to second twice in the race, start their TTT. They have little to ride for today and shouldn't really trouble the major contenders.

The opening stretch of the course is very tight, and already Ted King has been dropped.

The buffering cross winds are playing havoc with Lotto at the moment but they're settling down again.


King now is about 25 meters off the back of the Cannondale train. The American is still suffering from his crash and he's on a normal road bike. Perhaps because of his injuries.

The sun is out today, the road dry so that will certainly help with fast times. Lotto look to have settled down further and appear to be hurtling along.

Cofidis about to start their TTT. Navarro is their GC contender but the French team have had a horrible start to the race so far with 9 crashes between them.

Essentially the team that wins today will pull on yellow, such are the small time gaps in the GC battle. As Omega now go 56 seconds faster than Argos at the first time check.

Sagan there in the green jersey takes a turn for Cannondale as back at the team buses, race favourite Chris Froome warms up on the rollers.

Cannondale still have 8 riders, so they've stabilized the situation after losing Ted King at the start.

FDJ now in the start house. Another team that will be looking to make it through today without incident.

Here's a list of the teams yet to start:

7 Belkin 15:39:00
8 Garmin-Sharp 15:43:00
9 Euskaltel-Euskadi 15:47:00
10 Sky 15:51:00
11 Katusha 15:55:00
12 Sojasun 15:59:00
13 Astana 16:03:00
14 Movistar Team 16:07:00
15 Team Saxo-Tikoff 16:11:00
16 Europcar 16:15:00
17 AG2R La Mondiale 16:19:00
18 Orica–GreenEdge 16:23:00
19 Lampre-Merida 16:27:00
20 Vacansoleil-DCM 16:31:00
21 BMC Racing Team 16:35:00
22 RadioShack-Leopard 16:39:00

We're not getting many images of the Omega team but they are absolutely flying around this first half of the course. They're going to be the standard to beat.

Kwiatkowski has had a great season to date and if Omega win then he'll pull on yellow.

Lotto 8 seconds down on Omega at the 13km check point. Lotto will be very happy with that.

Cannondale are looking a bit ragged at the moment as Belkin start their first ever TTT.

The Dutch team are very fast through the opening few twisty turns.

They're immediately lined out as they take on the first straight section of the race with Lars Boom drifting back after taking his first turn on the front.

Cannondale 14 seconds off the lead at the time check. Still with 8 riders though.

Belkin are now on the coastal road, where Paris-Nice and Ironman Nice both finish.

Belkin should post a competitive time today but Omega are now on the homestretch and they have 9 riders. There's a bit of a headwind on this section, as Argos now come to the line and set the first time of the day with 27'41.

And now Garmin start.

They're off smartly, using that TTT training to good effect. Can they deliver David Millar to his first yellow jersey in 13 years. It's a big ask but it's possible.

Omega are now coming up to the line and they're about to set the fastest time. They finish in a time of 25'57. They've really set down an impressive marker.

Euskaltel about to start their TTT with Igor Anton hoping that his team can keep him in check. They're not the strongest TTT but the short distance should mean that they don't lose too much time.

Lotto are starting to look a bit ragged now with a few riders missing turns as they head towards the finish. This is where Omega really put the hammer down.

Lotto come to the finish in a time 16 seconds slower than Omega. Jurgen Van Den Broeck wont be too upset with that at all.

Sky start their race. A crucial moment for them really. They have a number of riders suffering from crashes and Froome has looked isolated in the race so far. They'll need to really measure their efforts today but they're still among the favourite for the stage, and the yellow jersey.

Garmin, meanwhile, still have all 9 riders together with Hesjedal currently at the front taking a long, long turn.

As Belkin go through the time check 16 seconds off the lead and in 4th place.

A quick time out, and you can check out this gallery looking back at the history of the TTT in the Tour de France.

Sky are on the opening section of straight road and Froome is dragging them along. They look formidable at the moment as up ahead Garmin ride on with 9 riders.

Garmin come to the time check 4 seconds down on Omega. There's still time to pull back that time though.

The American team need to step it up on the run in to the finish despite the difficult headwind.

Cofidis come to the line, 6 riders left but they're 1'19 down on Omega.

We're now waiting on Sky at the first time check but I wonder if Ted King can make the time cut. if Omega's time holds, Ted will have to average about 28.5 mph on his own to get inside 25%

To recap, Omega lead, with Garmin in second place with Sky now closing in on the first time check.

Hesjedal takes another turn, Garmin really giving it everything to bring back that time they lost in the first section. They dont look as smooth as Sky but that can be deceptive.

FDJ now come to the line with 6 riders left. Not a bad time from the French team, Pinot in the team gives them something to aim for on GC and they finish 41 seconds down on Omega. Not that great in the end actually.

Froome has a bit of a wobble there on a corner but makes it around. Sky still looking slick and with all 9 riders.

Astana now start their effort. They'll be looking to keep Fuglsang in the race for yellow.

Sky are third , 5 seconds down on Omega, and 1 second down on Garmin.

Froome drifts to the back of the line having taken another really long pull on the front. As Belkin motor to the line, conceding 36 seconds to Omega.

Sky lose their line on a corner and they need to ease up in order to form up again.

Now Movistar start their TTT. They're in with a real shout today, and won the TTT in the Vuelta last year. They have a very strong TTT team.

Sky still have all their 9 riders together as they start the push for the line. It's going to be so close for the stage and the yellow jersey.


Garmin come to the line with 6 riders 3rd, behind Lotto and Omega. The American team folded on the run in to the line and finished 16 seconds down at the finish.

Katusha meanwhile crossed the first time check 11 seconds down. That second half of the race, heading back with that headwind, is deciding the race really.

And now Contador and his Saxo Bank team start their TTT.

Sky now coming into the last couple of kilometres.

Porte leads with Froome on his wheel.

Sorry 5km to go for Sky, not two but Froome is on the front taking another long turn.

Saxo on the opening sections and the wind has died off a bit. That could really help on the first section of the course, and then the final dash towards the line where there had been a headwind.

And now Sky come to the line.

It could be close.

They finish second fastest 2 seconds down on Omega. That's a good result for Sky really. They probably wouldn't want to take yellow this early in the race.

Astana 11 at the first time check as Contador with Saxo takes time to grab some fluids.

If the wind has died down we could see the lead change later, and we still have BMC, Movistar and Saxo to post finish times. BMC still in the start house, in fact.

Orica will be next to leave the start house. They're another team in with a chance of taking the stage and the yellow jersey and they'll be in good spirits after Simon Gerrans won a thrilling sprint yesterday.

Teams yet to start: 

18 Orica–GreenEdge 16:23:00
19 Lampre-Merida 16:27:00
20 Vacansoleil-DCM 16:31:00
21 BMC Racing Team 16:35:00
22 RadioShack-Leopard 16:39:00

Noval has crashed. He's back  on the bike but he won't catch up with his teammates.

Saxo still have 8 riders though as Movistar come through the first time check 8 second down on Omega.

Contador out of the saddle so often, even when in TTT mode. He switches to the front of the Saxo line as they approach the first time check.

Incredible. They're just 1'6 seconds down on Omega. Can they hold that pace?

Now Lampre are on the start ramp. Not much expected from the Italian team but they do have a few handy riders for this event, including Malori.

This isn't the Astana team that won the Giro and they're not looking on for a top time today. They'll be lucky to make it into the top 14.

Europcar are having a shocker, to be expected to some extent, and they're 30 seconds off the lead at the first time check.

If Saxo win today and Roche hangs in there, he'll move into the yellow jersey.

Astana finish 55 seconds down on the line. Movistar are coming though.

5km to go for Saxo Bank and they look rapid. Contador himself is on the front now.

Here come Movistar to the line. They finish 18 seconds down on Omega.

Saxo Bank will be next. They have about 3km to go now and they're closest to Omega at the first time check. Have the Danish team held it together as BMC start their TTT.

All black helmets apart from Evans who wears a red lid and yellow overshoes.

Saxo are coming closer to the line. They've lost a little bit of their pep as they head under the 1km to go banner.

A few riders simply holding on as Contador comes to the front yet again.

It's going to be close.

Nope. Third quickest for Contador and his men, 8 seconds off the lead. GreenEDGE 3 seconds off the lead at the first time check.

And now RadioShack with Bakelants in yellow start their TTT. It's a big ask for them to keep yellow today.

Europcar lose 1'24 at the finish. BMC still have all 9 riders, and GreenEDGE are looking strong as well so yellow is still on the line.

This is how things stand at the moment with yellow heading to QuickStep:

1.Omega Pharma-QuickStep 25:57
2.Sky +0:02
3.Saxo-Tinkoff +0:08
4.Lotto Belisol +0:16
5.Garmin-Sharp +0:16
6.Movistar +0:18
7.Katusha +0:27
8.Cannondale +0:33
9.Belkin +0:36
10.FDJ.FR +0:41
11.Astana +0:55
12.Sojasun +1:09
13.Cofidis +1:19
14.Euskaltel +1:23
15.Argos-Shimano +1:46

AG2R finish a 1'03 off Omega's time.

Contador is about to start his warm down. He'll be fairly happy with his team today, only 8 seconds off Omega and three off Sky.

GreenEdge are down to 6 riders but they were only 3 seconds off the lead at the first time check. Less than 400 meters to go.

They lose one rider.

They do it. Less than a second ahead of Omega and that will put Gerrans in yellow.

And BMC are 8 seconds down on Omega at the first time check. That was a great ride from Orica, they crossed the line with just five riders in the end so really got the most out of their riders.

Gerrans started the stage in third on GC so if the team holds this lead and RadioShack falter Gerrans will pull on yellow for the first time in his career.

"I didnt hear one word over the radio" Gerrans tells his teammates at the finish.

RadioShack come through the first time check 11 seconds down.

Lampre finish 25 seconds down. Cunego and co will be content with that result.

1.Orica-GreenEdge 25.56
2.Omega Pharma-QuickStep +0:01
3.Sky +0:03
4.Saxo-Tinkoff +0:09
5.Lotto Belisol +0:17
6.Garmin-Sharp +0:17
7.Movistar +0:19
8.Katusha +0:28
9.Cannondale +0:34
10.Belkin +0:37
11.FDJ.FR +0:42
12.Astana +0:56
13.AG2R +1:04
14.Sojasun +1:10
15.Europcar +1:13
16.Cofidis +1:20
17.Euskaltel +1:24
18.Argos-Shimano +1:47

9km to go for RadioShack but they're up against it. Gerrans is now sitting outside the team bus waiting for BMC and Shack teams to finish. He's moments away from a yellow jersey unless Evans and his team can pull something out of the bag.

The yellow jersey is going out with his head held high, coming to the front and leading his team. But BMC will be the next team home. They have 1km to go but have just lost Burghardt. 

They have 30 seconds to cover the last 1km so it's not going to happen for them.

News that Ted King survived the time cut.

Evans loses 26 seconds to Orica today. That's a bit of a dent in his and van Garderen's GC hopes.

Just over 1km to go for RadioShack now. Gerrans can probably make his way to the podium now along with his teammates. The stage, the second in two days, and the yellow jersey is on its way to Orica GreenEDGE.

A brave defence from RadioShack but they lose yellow and Andy Schleck loses 29 seconds to the winning time.

Neil Stephens gets in the back patting celebrations too as Goss, O'Grady and the riders celebrate with a huddle.

1.Orica-GreenEdge 25.56
2.Omega Pharma-QuickStep +0:01
3.Sky +0:03
4.Saxo-Tinkoff +0:09
5.Lotto Belisol +0:17
6.Garmin-Sharp +0:17
7.Movistar +0:19
8.Lampre +0:15
9.BMC +0:26
10.Katusha +0:28
11.Radio +0:29
12.Vacansoleil +0:33
13.Cannondale +0:34
14.Belkin +0:37
15.FDJ.FR +0:42
16.Astana +0:56
17.AG2R +1:04
18.Sojasun +1:10
19.Europcar +1:13
20.Cofidis +1:20
21.Euskaltel +1:24
22.Argos-Shimano +1:47

Matt White: 'Technically we nailed it."

White adds that the team will try and keep yellow for as long as possible.

Here's where the race stands on GC now:

General classification after stage 4
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 12:47:24
2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:00
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:00
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:01
5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:01
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:03
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:03
8 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:03
9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:09
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:09

Contador says five or six seconds is nothing in terms of the time loss. The Spaniard will be happy with the result although he'll be waiting on news of Noval who crashed. The Spaniard is on his way to hospital  for checks.

 But GreenEDGE are now on the podium collecting their flowers for the stage win. Gerrans will be back on the podium in just a minute to take the yellow jersey.

BMC are warning down right now but back to the podium and Gerrans is in yellow. The first yellow jersey for Australia since Evans.

GreenEDGE should certainly be able to hold onto the yellow jersey for two more stages, the next two days suited to the sprinters.

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our race report, images, and results right here.

We'll be back tomorrow with complete live coverage from stage 5 of the Tour de France.

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