Stage 4: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage - Lille Métropole
Highest point: 159m
After three days in the United Kingdom, the peloton return to French shores. Yet again, this should be another clear cut chance for the sprinters and an opportunity to extend or reduce the lead in the green jersey competition. In order to stop Peter Sagan from repeating his 2013 success, the pure sprinters will have to take points at every opportunity.
By this point we will have already had a snapshot of who is in form and who hasn't got their preparation quite right. It will be one of the last chances for the pure sprinters to get on the score board before we hit the mountains at the weekend.
The riders will head east from the French coast, tackling two fourth category climbs and running alongside the Belgian boarder, before the finish in Lille, in anticipation of the following day’s key stage.
Lille has featured 14 times as a finishing town for the Tour de France. The last time was 20 years ago for the opening prologue, which was won by Chris Boardman. It was his first of three Tour de France stage wins and the result would put him into the yellow jersey for the first time. He would go onto win the prologues in 1997 and 1998, making him the Brit with the most time in the yellow jersey until Bradley Wiggins in 2012 on his way to team Sky’s first ever Tour victory.
Jean-Christophe Péraud says... This is undoubtedly a stage to put a smile on sprinters' faces. As a GC team, we will have to be careful about the win to make sure we don't get trapped behind a split. It will be a waiting day, where teams will be focussed on leaders and keeping them fresh.
France has the record number of victories in Lille, with five. However, the last man to do it for France was Louison Bobet, in 1954. He beat two Swiss riders, Ferdi Kubler – who won in Lille in 1947 - and Hugo Koblet. This year, there is one Frenchman in with a hope of adding to that tally, Europcar’s Bryan Coquard. The 22-year-old has been making his name as a sprinter over the last two years.
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