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97th Tour de France - Stage 4 & Photos
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 7/7/2010
97th Tour de France - Stage 4 & Photos
 

97th Tour de France - Stage 4
Lampre's Ale Jet Petacchi stamps the sprint finish with authority to take his second victory in the tour de France.

 
Jersey Leaders Stage 4

Maillot Jaune: Fabian Cancellara Saxo Bank
Maillot Vert: Thor Hushovd Cervello TestTeam
KOM:  Jérôme Pineau Quick Step
Maillot Blanc: Geraint Thomas Team SKY
Team: Saxo Bank
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Wednesday 7th July

Stage 4; Cambrai - Reims 153.5 km
Alessandro 'Ale Jet' Petacchi started his sprint with 300 meters to go performing like the supersonic aircraft  he was nicknamed for years ago to take his second victory in this years tour de France.

Petacchi proved to have the fastest legs, dominating his fellow sprinters in the mass finish in Reims today besting: Garmin's Julian Dean, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team SKY), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Robert Hunter (Garmin) who filled out the top 5. Mark


Alessandro Petacchi celebrates his win...  (Left to right) Robert Hunter, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Julian Dean, Robbie McEwen and Thor Hushovd in the green jersey.  Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

This is the blue & Fuscia rider's 165th career win and 7th victory this year - showing his back wheel to the tour's fast men. The Lampre team led by Gavazzi dueled with HTC/Columbia and Garmin transition teams taking control in the final kilometer to launch Petacchi,  who flew up the right side of the road as Dean, Robbie McEwen tried to close in at the line but could get no closer to the Italian than his rear wheel as he crossed the line with a clear advantage and celebrated by raising his arms to the sky.

For the 36 year old Italian, "Gentleman Sprinter" he was a happy man, thanking his team, in particular Francesco Gavazzi for the perfect lead out and commenting that one needs a strong team, which he has, to win at the tour.  Petacchi should be taking special pleasure out of the win today, having said Cavendish could be beaten and having accomplished what some believe an impossible task, twice this tour. Cavendish, once again came up short in 12th place on the stage after what appeared to be a perfect lead out from his team.

Green jersey Thor Hushovd led out the early part of the sprint but became boxed in as the line closed in. Thor holds on to  the sprinters jersey with Ale Jet moving to only ten points off the Norwegian champions point count of 80.

Results
153.5km - 3h34:55

1 Alessandro Petacchi Lampre/Farnes Vini
2  Julian Dean  Garmin/Transitions
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen  Team SKY

4 Robbie McEwen  Katusha
5 Robbie Hunter  Garmin/Transitions
6 Sebastien Turgot  Bbox Bouygues Telecom
7 Jose Rojas  Caisse d'Epargne
8  Daniel Oss Liquigas/Doimo
9 Thor Hushovd  Cervélo TestTeam
10 Oscar Freire Rabobank

After 799 kilometers of racing and four stages the overall classification changed not a tittle after the shakeup yesterday on the cobble -rific stage with Fabian Cancellara still in the maillot jaune arriving in the body of the peloton escorted by team mate Stuart O'Grady.

The day was animated by an escape of five riders who left the comfort of the group only one kilometer after the start with high hope to defy the sprinters their day of glory on a perfect sunny day for racing...

Stage 4; Cambrai - Reims 153.5 km
An attack by Ag2r la Mondiale's Dimitri Champion starting shortly after Bernard Hinault dropped the flag was joined by Euskaltel's Inaki Isasi, Footon/Servetto's Iban Mayoz, Nicolas Vogondy (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Omega Pharma/Lotto's Francis De Greef; as if on cue the quintet quickly opened a gap of of over a minute in the following kilometers on the Saxo Bank led peloton to raise the curtain on the drama of stage 4.

After 3 tough days of racing, unsurprisingly the peloton was looking for an easy day as they rode under clear and sunny conditions as our fab five continued to move up the road intent on increasing the gap in the opening hour.


Graphic © 2010 Tour de France
 

Through the first points sprint in Walincourt-Selvigny after 12.5 kilometers  Iban Mayoz (Footon/Servetto) took the max points followed by Ag2r's Dimiti Champion and Belgian Francis De Greef (Omega Pharma/Lotto) having opened the gap to over 1:30. The five continued to work well together; Euskaltel's Inaki Isasi was the best placed rider at 3:46 behind Cancellara and no real threat to the Swiss riders jersey. On a day the sprinters teams could be counted on to work for or an group arrival for a mass sprint Saxo Bank led the chase knowing their time at the front would be limited before the sprinters teams got active.

After 17 km the French, Spanish and Belgian alliance opened to the gap to 3 minutes...  by 25 kilometers Isasi became the virtual leader on the road as the gap grew to 3:50 as the riders approached the lone climb on today's stage the category 4 Cote de Vadencourt at the 40.5 km mark.

Behind  the HTC-Columbia team. took control of the front to control the gap to avoid any surprises with the gap going beyond what they could easily take back. Kanstantsin Sivtsov took the point on the front, settled in for the long haul. The 27 year old rider from Gomel, Belarus a talented time trialist and climber had no trouble dragging the gap down to 2:30 over the next 20 km   Isasi hardly had time to enjoy his virtual leader honors... as Sivtsov the former U23 world road champion (2004) and 2008 winner of the Tour of Georgia continued alone at the front setting the pace.

Over the summit the 3 climbing points were claimed by Footon's Iban Mayoz followed by  Francis De Greef (2pts) and  Inaki Isasi (EUS) (1pt); at the moment the climbing points would have no impact on Jerome Pineau's KOM lead.

Behind,  Isasi's Euskaltel teammate Amets Txurruka didn't fare as well,  taking a tumble and losing some skin... a quick bike change and a visit to the tour doctor and the Basque climber managed to rejoin the peloton.

Through the second points sprint in with 104 km to go the it was the Belgian Francis De Greef taking the points in Flavigny,  Iban Mayoz  and  Bbox's Nicolas Vogondy followed...

The peloton continued to shadow the five riders on the front keeping them close with teams rotating  riders to the front all but Saxo Bank that is... and all credit to Kanstantsin Sivtsov who was the most persistent on the front leading the chase.

With 55 km to go the peloton led by a Lampre and HTC/Columbia rider with the Lance Armstrong escorted by his  RadioShack squad leading the peloton keeping our escapees on a short leash of 1:19 as Saxo Bank continued to enjoy easy day  for yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara and team leader Andy Schleck.

41 km to go our five continued to fight with 1:01, recharged with optimism by the 37 km to go  marker they took back another ten seconds on the chase led by Lampre and a lone HTC rider. RadioShack with Armstrong and Liquigas with Basso in escort followed on the front. Traveling through farm country the riders passed a modern concrete silo complex that looked oddly out of place in comparison to the small villages the tour went through earlier. The scene with the silo might have been as much at home in the farm country of Kansas or Fresno, California.

Head optimist in the break, Bbox's Nicolas Vogondy took a long pull on the front taking the cheers of his compatriots pusing the gap to 1:35. With 30 km to go Cervélo moved to the front to close the gap as the race was about to meet its business end in Reims - the gap fell to 40 seconds as the peloton followed our five optimists through he sprint banner.

De Greef led Vogondy and Isasi through the final hot sprint in the gap quickly fell under Cervelo's lead to 30 seconds with Thor Hushovd in tow and Robbie McEwen moving up on Thor's wheel. Behind Cunego and two mates fought to regain the peloton after flatting.

With 20 km to go the fab five lingered off the front with 30 seconds as HTC/Columbia joined the Cervélo men in white with Lampre/Farnese with Petacchi still in attendance on the front - each team taking a position to take control of the front in Reims.

The pace picked up but Vogondy and Champion persisted, doubling their effort on the front matching the chase with 15 km to go hanging on to 30 seconds - optimists five showed no sign of giving up hope though it was clear they couldn't possibly last much longer as they came into view of the chase on the straighter sections of the road.

The gap was down to 18 seconds as our five  continued to bravely fight to stay away in spite of their lowering odds against the fresher legs of teams:Lampre, Cervélo and HTC who dominated  the chase.

Amazingly with 9 km to go, our leaders had 15 seconds - they refused to quit and taunted the chase... behind it was Lampre who controll;ed the front as BMC moved up with Ballan leading Hincapie and Evans.  6 km 13 seconds... HTC lead the front with Martin the five continued bravely on hoping against the inevitable praying for glory.

5 km to go the five fight for their survival as the the go through the first of the roundabouts in Reims, De Greef is dropped as  four continue their battle for the line... but with Lampre on the front the three were finally reeled in with Inaki Isasi the last to give up his tenuous gap on the chase with 3.5 km to go after 150 kilometers on the attack.

A hectic closing in the next 3 kilometers through a few roundabouts followed as HTC Columbia, Cervélo, Lampre and Liquigas jostled for control of the front HTC's Tony Martin led with 2 km to go; but through the final piece of road furniture it was Lampre leading under the 1 km banner.

With 500 meters Hushovd, Gavazzi and Petacchi,Cavendish Hagan and Garmin sprinters Dean and Hunter in the rush for the line spread out across the road.


Ale Jet Petacchi makes his move with 300 meters to go...
Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

With 300 meters to go Petacchi launched his sprint up the right side of the road  opening a gap with McEwen on his wheel trying to come around.  Dean and Hagan passed McEwen to take second and third with McEwenm holding on for fourth with Hunter nipping Bouygues' Turgot and Caisse d'Eparne's Rojas for fifth place.

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Tour de France -  Week One Preview
Stage 2 Live Report Part 1, Part 2
Stage 3 Live Report: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
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97th Tour de France - Start List


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