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As it happened: a new race leader after a solo Alpine attack in the Tour de France


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 4 of the 2024 Tour de France.

Today’s stage gets under way in just over an hour’s time. The peloton heads out of Pinerolo and the neutralised start at 13.05 CET, with the race due to pass through kilometre zero at 13.15. After which, there's quite a day in store...

On today’s menu:

In other words, this is the first major mountain test of the 2024 Tour de France. Unprecedently early and difficult - even in 2023, when ASO opted to shake things up by heading almost straight into the Pyrenees, the first big mountain stage wasn't until day 5, and that wasn't as hard as this one.

Key to it all is the Galibier, which at 2,642 metres above sea level is the second highest climb of the 2024 Tour de France. The highest being the Col de la Bonette-Restefond, which peaks out at 2,802 metres above sea level, but which the Tour peloton won't see until the back end of week 3.

Hopefully it'll be a mite warmer by then, too. Current reports are that the temperature at the top of the Galibier for this afternoon are set to be 3 degrees Celsius. 

There's also an awful lot of going uphill packed into 139 kilometres: 3,900 metres of vertical climbing, the most that the peloton will see in the first week and all the way through to stage 11 in the Massif Centrale.
Even the first sprint of the day, after 18.9 kilometres at Castel del Bosco, actually happens during the first categorized climb of the stage. That's the 39.9 kilometre (!) cat.2 ascent to Sestrieres, which peaks out at km 50.4.

Tour de France 2024: race leader after stage 3 Richard Carapaz

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While Richard Carapaz became the first Ecuadorian ever to lead the Tour de France on Monday, a major achievement in anyone's book, an even bigger story of the day was the bunch sprint victory for Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty), the first ever Black African to win a stage in the Tour.
Reporting on the impact of his win by Dani Ostanek here:
Another first – Biniam Girmay makes history once again with Tour de France stage win in Turin

One sprinter who was unable to take part in the mass dash for the line in Turin was Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who was caught up in a huge crash some two kilometres from the line. The Belgian sprinter, already a multiple stage winner in the Tour, will be able to continue racing on stage 4. James Moultrie has the full story here:

Jasper Philipsen continues Tour de France after frustrating high-speed crash on first sprint stage

Less than 10 minutes before the stage gets underway, the last this year to start on Italian soil after the three-and-a-bit days the Tour de France has spent in the neighbouring country. Once we hit the summit of the Cat2 Col de Montgenevre, the race will be back on home soil.

While we're waiting, some transfer gossip. According to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, Soren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Lennard Kamna (Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe), both former Tour de France stage winners amongst other achievements, are both due to move across to Lidl-Trek next year. Also rumours that Australian sprinter Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is moving on, too, either to Astana Qazaqstan or Bahrain Victorious.

A shot of defending Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) during this morning's team presentations at Pinerolo. It's a crunch day for all the GC favourites, and Vingegaard has come through the opening stages of the Tour better than expected, considering his long spell away from racing because of injury. But today's climbing test is also bigger than anything the 2024 Tour de France has tackled so far.

The riders have started their four kilometres of neutralised racing out of Pinerolo and towards the Départ Reel.

139 kilometres to go

The peloton is instantly strung out, courtesy of Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny)

Less than 10 kilometres to the foot of the first climb, the Sestrieres (Cat 2, 39.9km at 3.7%).  After which it's up or down all day.

Yet more attacks, but nothing is sticking yet. Warm, dry weather by the way.

Former World Champion Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), likely after the points on offer in the fast-approaching intermediate sprint, makes a lone move.

Pedersen has 11 seconds, while another five riders are trying to get across.

The five are quickly reeled in, but then there's another counter-attack forming with
Raul Garcia Pierna (Arkea-B&B Hotels),  Soren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ).

No dice for these three, on what is proving to be a much more fraught start to the stage than on Monday...finally, though, Pedersen is joined by Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Kevin Geniets  (Groupama-FDJ), Harold Tejada (Astana Qazaqstan),
Frank van den Broek (DSM-firmenich PostNL) and Magnus Cort (Uno-X Mobility). They have roughly 20 seconds on the bunch.

We are already on the start of the interminable Sestrieres climb.

Alpecin-Deceuninck chasing behind with their same domestique for the first part of stage 3, Silvan Dillier.

World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is trying to bridge across to the break...

123 kilometres to go

One DNS today, incidentally, Soudal-QuickStep's Casper Pedersen, who was unlucky enough to break his collarbone late on stage 3. He finished the stage, but couldn't continue any further in the 2024 Tour de France.

Lidl-Trek move to the front of the reformed bunch and we're just a kilometre away from the one and only intermediate sprint of the day...

Pedersen leads out the uphill sprint but stage 3 winner Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) is on his trail.

Pedersen gets the sprint ahead of Girmay, the Tour's website reports, followed by Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and points classification leader Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility).

Sprinters already in difficulties at the back of the bunch, including Movistar's Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), second on Monday in Turin.

One of the surprises is that gifted young French climber Lenny Martínez (Groupama-FDJ) is already out the back.

A big group of fastmen now dropped, roughly 20 riders including Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan), green jersey Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility), Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) and other sprinters... 

114 kilometres to go

A four-rider group picks its way clear 25 kilometres from the summit: Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Oier Lazkano (Movistar), Christopher Juul-Jensen (Jayco-AIUIa) and Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X Mobility).

The gradients are very gentle here and multiple riders are trying to bridge across, including Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates). Rui Costa, racing for race leader Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) chases down Soler and the bunch is close to reforming...

12 riders off the front in the umpteenth reconfiguration of the head of the race, including Mathieu van der Poel, but the UAE-led peloton is just a stone's throw behind.

Race leader Carapaz, incidentally, is sitting comfortably on fifth wheel of the pack, watching to be sure none of his most serious rivals steal an early march on him.

  Finally a 17-rider group goes clear and it looks like we have a break of the day: Odd Christan Eiking and Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X Mobilty), Warren Barguil (DSM-Firmenich-PostNL) Bruno Armirail (Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale), Julien Bernard (Lidl-Trek), Valentin Madouas, David Gaudu and Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ), Cristian Rodríguez and Raul Garcíá Pierna (Arkea-B&B Hotels), Kobe Goossen (Intermarché-Wanty), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Stephen Williams (Israel-Premier Tech), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Oier Lazkano (Movistar), Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), and Chris Juul-Jensen (Jayco-AIUIa).

100 kilometres to go

EF Education-EasyPost lead the pack behind, follow by a large delegation of UAE riders.

Less than 8 kilometres to the top on the ascent of Sestrieres and the gap is now standing at 2:00 for the 17-strong lead group

95 kilometres to go

Amongst the 17-man move, the two biggest threats to Carapaz overall, incidentally, are Odd Christian Eiking (Uno-X) and Warren Barguil (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), both at 2:31 and 34th and 37th overall.

The lead stretches up to 2:59 and Eiking has a provisional overall lead to the Tour de France to add to the real Vuelta a Espana lead he held for much of week 2 of the race back in 2021.

UAE add a rider to the front of the peloton to keep things under control and the gap stabilizes at around at the three minute mark.

Jonas Vingegaard was interviewed on Eurosport at the start of the stage about how he views his strategy about what could well be one of the biggest days in this year's Tour.

"Most of all [I want to] just to try to defend myself. It’s still in the first week, this might be the place where I’m the most vulnerable. I think we just have to defend here in the first week and then maybe later on we will have a different mindset.
"Of course, with the crash I’ve had, I think it’s normal the most pressure is on [Pogačar]. I’m still an unknown factor, so to speak. You never know how I will be over these three weeks. The preparation I had was far from ideal, so I think it’s normal that he’s the big favourite."

Less than a kilometre to the top of the Sestrieres, a climb well known to the Tour and scene of a famous breakaway victory for Claudio Chiappucci way back in the 1992 race.

Former Tour de France KoM winner Barguil blasts away for the points, but he's outpaced by Williams at the summit of Sestrieres ahead of Madouas.

Conscious that the gap is fast dropping on the peloton, Barguil opts to push on with Williams and Madouas over the top of the Sestrieres ascent. Their advantage is minimal though.

The peloton crosses the summit of the Sestrieres with a 2:00 disadvantage, so Eiking's spell in the Tour lead has been and gone.

Still to come:

Km 71.1: Climb: Col de Montgenevre (Cat 2, 8.3km at 5.9%)

The Barguil-inspired move was shortlived and on the sweeping, fast descent off Sestrieres, the lead group reforms. 2:14 the gap.

The break of the day

The 17 riders are on the Col de Montgenevre,  Cat 2, 8.3km at 5.9%.

74 kilometres to go

Four kilometres to the top of the Montgenevre and the Tour's return to France. Paris-Roubaix runner-up Nils Politt finds himself in rather different terrain, hauling the UAE-led peloton over the second last climb of the day. Warmer weather, too, than usually what's on offer in Roubaix - for now.

The Tour de France passes the French border and back to home soil.

One kilometre to the top and riders are grabbing bottles in a feed zone before the long descent to Briancon and the crunch climb of the day, the Galibier.

Barguil goes for it again on the summit of the Montgenevre, but Williams once again outsprints him. More points for the Briton.

2:25 on the bunch at the summit, incidentally, meaning the break's chances of staying away to the finish exist, but they are still limited.

It's a fast, well-surfaced descent off the Montgenevre, but there are a lot of hairpins as well.

Still to come:

Km 120.6: Climb: Col du Galibier (HC, 23km at 5.1%) 

We're fast approaching the foot of the Galibier, here's a profile of what they are about to face.

The first segment, sometimes classified separately is the far gentler Col du Lauteret, essentially a long, straightforward, A-road drag up from Briancon through the valley to the crossroads where left takes you down to the foot of Alpe d'Huez, and right, up to the top of the Galibier.

The peloton briefly splits on the descent of the Montgenevre. UAE are in the front group, with Carapaz in a second group behind. Gaps are minimal for now and it should come back together, but as a statement of intentions, the split could be an omen for how hard the fight will be on the slopes of the Galibier... 

Still powering downhill, the race reaches Briancon, scene of many a Tour de France and Criterium du Dauphine finish.

As we come into Briancon, the UAE Team Emirates start to mass at the front. Ominous.

Talking of which, here is a picture of UAE earlier on today on the front, looking - well -  ominous.

The race moves out of Briancon and the road begins to rise gently. We're onto the lower slopes of the Galibier.

47 kilometres to go

A flashback to 2019, when the race last took this road over the Galibier and then dropped down to Valloire, the stage finish and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) took a lone victory.

Tour de France: Nairo Quintana wins stage 18

Quintana is not on the Tour this year, by the way, but there are rumours he will be signing an extension with Movistar for 2025. Watch this space.

3%, 4%, 3% - the 17 riders are keeping a sustained pace on the long, long drag up to the official foot of the Galibier, passing the race sign saying the climb 'proper' has begun and  with 22 kilometres to go to the summit. They've already been going uphill for quite a while now, so a message like that can't be anything but daunting.

Marc Madiot, Groupama-FDJ general manager, is on the roadside in soigneur mode, handing out bidons to his three riders in the front group, including team leader David Gaudu.

40 kilometres to go

Nils Politt continues to grind out a powerful pace for UAE Team Emirates, with the gap, that had briefly ballooned to three minutes, now shrinking to just over two.

The weather is overcast, but dry for now, thankfully, meaning the twisting descent off the Galibier will be a little less risky than if tackled in the wet.

If - and it remains very much an 'if' for now -  Tadej Pogačar does launch a significantly successful attack on yellow today, there will be no lack of recollections that it was on this climb that Marco Pantani, the last rider to do the Giro-Tour in 1998, made a major move to claim the maillot jaune on the Galibier, dropping previous year's winner Jan Ullrich. That was coming up the other side, mind, and in much wetter weather than today.

Tim Wellens takes over from UAE teammate Nils Politt on the front of the peloton. And the gap shrinks down to 1:34.

We've still got  just over 15 kilometres of climbing to the summit of the Galibier, by the way, but UAE are clearly making their intentions known from a very long way out.

34 kilometres to go

Gaudu's move brings a response from former Spanish National Champion Oier Lazkano (Movistar), who follows his teammate Nairo Quintana's ghostly wheeltracks up the Galibier.

Christophe Laporte (Visma-Lease a Bike) dropped from the peloton and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) sits up in the break.

Lazkano has been joined by Gaudu and the two have a small gap on the remnants of the crumbling break.

TV images on Eurosport showing that there are some wet segments on the top of the Galibier where minature snow avalanches have fallen onto the road. But the road itself has been cleared.

Gaudu and Lazkano have been joined by Chris Juul-Jensen (Jayco-AIUIa) and Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X Mobility), but the gap is shrinking fast.

Van der Poel caught by the UAE-led peloton. Wellens still powering away for team leader Tadej Pogacar.

Lazkano makes a pronounced dig, Gaudu following him. But there's precious little collaboration between the two and the end of the break appears to be nigh.

Wellens swings off and Marc Soler comes to the fore now for Pogacar.

A shot of UAE leading a fast-shrinking peloton on the lower slopes of the Galibier...

Lazkano makes his third lone last-ditch effort as the race powers through a snow tunnel. But the gap is just 41 seconds back to the peloton

No sign of Carapaz weakening, by the way, with US National Champ and teammate Sean Quinn just in front of him. Soudal-QuickStep still have five riders alongside Remco Evenepoel and Jonas Vingegaard is looking almost equally well surrounded, albeit minus Van Aert and Laporte, both of whom were dropped.

Eight kilometres of clmbing left and still around 50 riders in the front group of favourites.

A quick reminder of the top ten on GC:

1 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) EF Education-EasyPost 15:20:18

Gaudu caught, and Lazkano has 15 seconds on the bunch. Pavel Sivakov takes over from Marc Soler for UAE. 

26 kilometres to go

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) also in difficulties. 

After Sivakov's brief but intense effort, Joao Almeida is the next to come to the fore for UAE, just when Tour de France leader Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) is dropped.

in the space of a kilometre as the road steepens notably, the bunch has shrunk to just 25 units at most. 

Vingegaard is looking very comfortable in third place in the string for now, right behind  teammate Mattia Jorgenson

Five kilometres from the summit and Carapaz has lost 30 seconds, SImon Yates at two minutes. There'll be a new race leader tonight, but who will it be?

Both Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel are still in the group as Adam Yates, a podium finisher in the Tour de France last year and teammate for Pogacar, comes to the front. 

Former leader Romain Bardet (DSM Firmenich-PostNL) and Enric Mas (Movistar) are both dropped as is Jorgenson. Vingegaard by himself. 

UAE still have four riders in the front group of around 10.

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) also dropped and another big burst of climbing power from Almeida.

Three kilometres to the summit and Roglic looks to be struggling, but not yet dropped.

 Ayuso, Vingegaard, Pogacar, Almeida, Rodriguez, Evenepoel, Landa and Roglic in the front group.

Ayuso takes over from Almeida, with three UAE riders in the front group of eight. A notable effort from the young Spanish racer in his Tour de France debut.

Only 1,500 metres to the top and the 'Big Four' for the GC in the 2024 Tour are still ahead and together.

20 kilometres to go

Pogacar attacks 800 metres from the summit. Vingegaard follows.

Pogacar and Vingegaard are opening a gap. 

Pogacar opens up a small gap on Vingegaard with 300 metres to the summit.

20 metres between Pogacar and Vingegaard

 Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates has a seven second gap on Vingegaard at the summit of the Galibier.

Evenepoel is 14 seconds down as  Pogačar thunders down the first part of the descent. 

The gap between  Pogačar and Vingegaard is hovering at around 8 seconds as  Pogačar moves onto broader, much drier roads.

Race leader Carapaz is at more than four minutes on Pogačar at the summit of the Galibier.

Pogačar is touching speeds of 80 kmh on this descent. Thankfully the roads are dry here.

Evenepoel is still at 30 seconds and on the point of being joined by Primoz Roglic.

10 kilometres to go

Pogačar  is opening up a gap on Vingegaard, to around 18 seconds now. 

The gap between the defending Tour champion and  Pogačar rises a little further, to 29 seconds.  After taking 10 seconds on Vingegaard on the Galibier, so far Pogačar has more than doubled his advantage on the descent.

Five kilometres to go

The trio of chasers catch Vingegaard. Will they work together?

Evenepoel is also coming across to the four ahead. So now five riders behind Pogacar: Remco, Roglic, Vingegaard, Rodriguez and Ayuso.

Three kilometres to go

Two kilometres to go and Pogačar is on the outskirts of Valloire. At a mere 90kmh on this part of the descent.

Pogačar is into the barrier-ed area looking for his first Tour de France stage win since the Vosges last year.

 Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates wins stage 4 of the Tour de France and takes the race lead. 

The clock is ticking and Evenepoel comes across the line, about 34 seconds back. Ayuso takes third.

Vingegaard drifted off the pace a little coming into the finish and will perhaps lose a few more seconds.  Pogačar, meanwhile, has also gained an 18-second time bonus.

Guided home by teammate Ben Healy, former maillot jaune Richard Carapaz finishes more than five minutes down.

Tadej Pogačar has now opened a 45 second lead overall on Remco Evenepoel, with Jonas Vingegaard at 50 seconds. After four days of racing and with almost all the mountains to come, that's quite a statement.

And here is a first image of  Pogačar crossing the line and reclaiming the race lead he held for one day on stage 2.

Some first words from new race leader Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, after taking the twelfthTour de France stage victory of his career:

"I'm super-happy, this was more or less the plan and we executed it really well. It was like a dream stage and I finished it off solo. It's incredible."
"I want to hit hard today, I've been training here a lot of weeks already and it felt like a home stage passing through Sestrieres and Montgenevre. Bonus seconds on the top, too. I felt confident and I had to try."
As for his attack and downhill acceleration away from Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) and the rest of the field, he argued, "I didn't want to go too early because of the wind and i had to do all the difference in the last few hundred metres. I know the downhill but I was a little bit surprised to see wet road in the first few corners. So it was a bit scary. But this descent is super fast and if you know the road also it helps."
Regarding his advantage on Vingegaard, he said, "It's good news. I can be happy with this. I'm superhappy with how I feel on the bike. So let's continue today with this attitude I have now."

The complete Cyclingnews report on today's stage, courtesy of Barry Ryan and complete with extra analysis, photos and results, is here:

Tour de France: Tadej Pogačar snares yellow with stage 4 victory in high mountains


Overall classification after stage 4

And here is a photo of Pogačar, back in yellow again 

Conclusions? This wasn't a knockout blow by Tadej Pogačar but it certainly has confirmed his status as top favourite for the Tour de France, has given him the upper hand on the overall, and has shown that UAE Team Emirates are, at the moment, the strongest team for the mountains by a hefty margin.
However, his margin on Jonas Vingegaard is not a huge one, either. So if Pogačar can be more than satisfied with how his Tour stage went, the defending champion is clearly up for giving his arch-rival a real run for his money. After his long road back from the injuries of April, that's no mean achievement. Friday's 25 kilometre time trial will be another important, but not decisive, test.
Furthemore afield, neither Primož Roglič nor Remco Evenepoel are out of the GC picture, it's worth noting that Evenepoel is running ahead of Vingegaard after the first major mountain stage, an excellent result for the Belgian, surely a favourite for Friday as well. And Carlos Rodriguez is now clearly established as Ineos GC leader as well.
But we're only four days into the Tour, so an awful lot can still happen.

At the other end of the spectrum on what was a perilously short climbing stage for the sprinters, incidentally, all of them made it home before the time cut of 40 minutes, with the last group crossing the line some 36 minutes down. And on Wednesday's stage 5, a flat run from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Saint-Vulbas, they'll likely be back in action.

No changes in the green jersey leader, incidentally, Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) remains on top with 87 points, four ahead of stage 3 winner Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty).

Abrahamsen is also four points clear of Pogačar and remains leader in the mountains ranking, while Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) is currently heading the BYR classification. Movistar, though, have been ousted from their top spot in the teams classification, now headed by UAE Team Emirates.

Some words from Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep), second on the stage and now second overall. Although he was dropped just before Vingegaard when Tadej  Pogačar attacked close to the summit of the Galibier, the Belgian then recouped his losses on the descent.
"It feels good, and it's great to finish second to the best rider in the world," he said.
"As a team, we have nothing to complain about - the strategy was good. It was a good day for us."
"Over 2,000 metres [above sea level], it gets harder to breathe and any acceleration can have a big effect. WhenPogačar  attacked, we were almost at 2,600 metres. I tried to keep up, but it was still a bit too much above my level. "

A shot of Pogačar dropping Vingegaard on the Galibier

Joao Almeida and Juan Ayuso were both key players in UAE Team Emirates dominating performance on the Galibier, setting things up perfectly for Pogačar to attack and shredding the field. James Moultrie has more on how they were instrumental in reducing the lead peloton to less than ten riders here.

'The best team in the world' - Almeida and Ayuso shred Tour de France GC field for Pogačar in UAE masterclass 

So after that giant slice of GC action, what’s on for Wednesday on stage 5?

Some interesting analysis from Grischa Niermann, the Visma-Lease a Bike sports director on how things stand for Jonas Vingegaard after his defeat on the Galibier stage.

Dani Ostanek has some more reaction from new race leader and stage 4 winner Tadej Pogačar here. 

Pogacar beat the Strava record today for the Galibier, according to the Tour de France race organisers

Some more reaction, this time from Jonas Vingegaard, courtesy of Stephen Farrand to read here

‘Our time will come’ - Jonas Vingegaard still in the game after first Tour de France mountain stage

The descent off the Col du Galibier exposed Remco Evenepoel’s Achilles heel at the Tour de France, but the Belgian showed his fighting spirit by closing the gap to the chase group behind an untouchable Tadej Pogačar and then winning the sprint for second place on stage 4.

Read the full story here.

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