Hello there and welcome to our live coverage on the final day of the Tour de la Provence. We went up Mont Ventoux yesterday, but today we have a much flatter affair to finish up and decide the overall standings, although the wind could yet play a part.
That was the scene on the start line a little earlier. The race is now underway and we've had some early attacks but no breakaway has formed so far.
Ivan Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers) wears the Mondrian/La Vie Claire-inspired leader's jersey after triumphing atop Mont Ventoux yesterday. He's set to seal the overall title today, with his teammate Egan Bernal second at 19 seconds, and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) third at 21 seconds.
For all the coverage from yesterday's queen stage, here's the link to our report, results, and photos
Alaphilippe comes out swinging.
Still no breakaway, and that's because of the early intermediate sprint in Saint-Michel de Frigolet. Bonus seconds are on the line, and the world champion fancies them. He gets three, and that takes him above Bernal into virtual second place overall.
Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) also grabbed a second there to move level with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) in fifth place overall.
We have another intermediate sprint after 80km, when we cross the finish line for the first time. From there, the riders will head out for an 83km finishing circuit, containing just two minor climbs ahead of a flat finale.
130km to go
We have a breakaway now
With the intermediate sprint out of the way, four riders have succeeded in clipping off the front of the bunch. They are:
Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën Team)
Luis Mas Bonet (Movistar Team)
Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM)
Jérémy Leveau (Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole)
The leaders take on the first climb of the day - the Montée des Antiques (3.7 at 3.8%) - with a lead of just over a minute.
Leknessund is first to the top of the climb. Now for a short descent.
117km to go
After that frantic start, things have calmed down and the break have been allowed to set about building a lead of four minutes. Sosa's Ineos teammates are controlling the peloton.
Alaphilippe has already come out fighting today, after a quality ride on Mont Ventoux yesterday. To read the world champion's thoughts on that podium finish, click here.
Ineos have upped the pace a little and the gap to the four breakaway riders drops to 3:30.
Into the final 100km of the Tour de la Provence and the break's lead dips down below the 3-minute mark. Groupama-FDJ are helping Inoes on the front of the bunch now, looking to set up their sprinter Arnaud Démare.
It's Eddie Dunbar on the front for Ineos and Clément Davy for FDJ. Just those two swapping turns for the time being and keeping the escapees at around three minutes. With 93km to go there's still ample time to bring this back.
Despite the threadbare early-season calendar, this is a double race day. We've also got the Clásica de Almería in Spain, which will be finishing three hours or so after Provence. Mark Cavendish is making his second QuickStep debut, and there are plenty of big names on the start line, including Alejandro Valverde and Fernando Gaviria. We have a race preview here.
The breakaway riders come into Salon-de-Provence for the first passage of the finish line.
83km to go
3:45 is the gap as the leaders cross the line.
The riders now head for the second of our three climbs. It's the Col du Val du Cuech (4.6km at 4.5%).
The break reach the top of the climb and Leknessund moves to the front to crest the climb in first place and claim the maximum haul of five points again.
Change at the front of the bunch as Arkéa-Samsic post a man forward. They're working for Nacer Bouhanni.
Arkéa have notably upped the pace and the gap starts to come down again. 3:30 with 69km to go.
A shot of Sosa and Bernal earlier in the day.
60km to go
The gap continues to fall, with Ineos, FDJ, and Arkéa working together. 1:55 now.
There was a vague threat of crosswinds when this parcours was unveiled, but it's not blowing strongly today and as such it's been a pretty quiet day in the saddle.
50km to go
Into the final 50km we go. Our four leaders - Gallopin, Leknessund, Mas, Leveau - have 2 minutes in hand on a peloton being led by Arkéa-Samsic and Groupama-FDJ. We've got one more climb coming up in around 10km but it looks like we're heading towards a straightforward bunch sprint.
We've not seen Deceuninck-QuickStep do any work today since going after that early intermediate sprint for the bonus seconds. But in Davide Ballerini they've got one of the big favourites for today's stage. He won the opening two stages, the first of which saw him overhaul a seemingly flying Arnaud Démare.
Ballerini and Démare are the favourites today, along with Bouhanni, who was third on the opening day, but there's also Alexander Kristoff and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels), Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Clément Venturini (AG2R Citroën Team), John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal), and the Bora-Hansgrohe duo of Ide Schelling and Matthew Walls, who were up there on the opening day.
36km to go
The leading quartet hit the third and final climb: La Roquemartine (3.5km at 3.5%). They do so with a lead of 1:21.
Into the final 20km we go. We've had some minor technical difficulties and in the meantime Luis Mas has attacked from the break. The Spaniard is solo with a lead of 15 seconds over his former companions.
Mas is doing a decent job here. He has 17 seconds now and a further minute over the peloton.
The gap hasn't really come down much over the past 20km. It's still the same riders on the front of the peloton, so it's been a fairly even contest between break and bunch, but there are plenty of fresh riders in reserve back there to ramp up the power on the run-in. Still, they've left it later than expected after seemingly having things under control all day.
It's still Eddie Dunbar on the front for Ineos - he's been there all day. Ineos have the overall leader and are still working despite not having a top-level sprinter (Ben Swift is their card today).
14km to go
And now, as I write that, we have some fresh impetus in the peloton. Rémi Cavagna hits the wind for Deceuninck-QuickStep.
QuickStep produced some early action today but have left the chasing to other teams today. They usually take on a good share of the workload and constantly remind everyone of it, but today they've opted to sit back, and their race is already a success with Ballerini's two stage wins and Alaphilippe's expected overall podium. They're coming to the fore now though and Cavagna's fresh legs and big engine will eat into this gap.
The gap does start to come down now. 50 seconds with 11km to go, as Mas starts to fade up front.
10km to go
The other three breakaway riders have stuck together and they're baring down on Mas now.
The catch is made with 9.6km to go. Our original quartet are back together and they have 40 seconds over the bunch.
40 seconds is still a handy advantage at this stage - and more than expected earlier on - but fresh legs are joining the chase now and the gap's coming down quickly. Down to 32 seconds in the time I've written that.
8km to go now and 25 seconds is the gap. Any breakaway hopes are evaporating fast.
Ineos are still up there en masse behind Cavagna and an Arkea rider. FDJ have taken a step back for now.
The gap is 20 seconds with 6.6km to go but the leaders can look around and see their pursuers.
Bora now post a rider to the front.
5km to go
The bunch fans across the road before Cavagna comes back to the front. Things had stalled slightly for a moment. 15 seconds the gap now with 5 to go.
QuickStep start to assemble their train. Lampaert bursts to the front. They also have Asgreen and Alaphilippe in third wheel.
4km and UAE set up shop on the left.
Still a 10-second gap with 3.5km to go
13 seconds now! It's gone up slightly. The four riders are digging in and giving it everything. Surely not...
Arkea take it up now. Panic stations. It's a technical finale so that'll favour the escapees.
8 seconds now with 2.2km to go. QuickStep move back to the front.
Demare is hanging back. The Groupama train is not in full flow today.
They take a right-hander into the last 1600m and the bunch strings out.
They've caught the escapees and we're heading for a messy sprint here.
Nearly a crash as Alaphilippe takes the inside line on a right-hander.
Areka have the front with the world champion second wheel
Alaphilippe takes it up with 900m to go!
Alaphilippe leads through the two left-hand bends. QuickStep have numbers
Stybar leads it out, and Ballerini goes now!
Here comes Bauhaus on the right, but Bouhanni is on the left!
It's a tight one but I think Bauhaus got it
Confirmed: Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) wins stage 4 of the Tour de la Provence
And we can finally say... Bahrain Victorious live up to their new name.
Ivan Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers) has finished safely in the bunch and so wins the 2021 Tour de la Provence.
1 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious 3:47:01
2 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
4 Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
6 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7 Matthew Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
9 Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko
10 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
"I wanted this really really bad," says Bauhaus.
"I went for it and was happy I could pass the other guys. It's always nice to see the finish beforehand so you can make the final plan. I knew I needed to be up front with 600m to go, and it went really well for us. Then I was strong enough to finish it off.
"It’s always good as a sprinter to win races. I'm also happy for the team. It takes some pressure off us. Now we have that rhythm, and I hope it gives us confidence for the next races."
Here's the link to our report page
That's how they came across the line
Final general classification
1 Ivan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 17:00:17
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:18
3 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:19
4 Wouter Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:39
5 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:57
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7 Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:58
8 Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
9 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
10 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
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