Kittel of Etixx – Quick-Step led out the sprint on an uphill finishing straight in Limoges and held off a strong surge from Coquard riding for Direct Energie by an even finer margin than Mark Cavendish’s win over Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal in yesterdays stage.
Dimension Data rider Cavendish found himself boxed in with 400m to go and could only finish seventh, while Peter Sagan of Tinkoff finished third to extend his overall lead of the race to 12 seconds. Julian Alaphilippe of Etixx – Quick-Step is in second and Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde sits in third.
Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton in 37th but is now 18 seconds behind Sagan in fifth, having been replaced in fourth place by Warren Barguil of Giant-Alpecin on cumulative stage placings. Stage four was the longest of this years Tour at 237.5km and although four riders mounted a determined breakaway, a sprint finish was never in doubt.
Greipel’s Lotto Soudal had led the peloton for much of the final 10km but were swamped when they turned into the finishing straight and the German could not recover. Cavendish had been sitting just behind Greipel and although he finished strongly, he had too much ground to make up on Kittel and Coquard was never in contention for the stage win.
The Tour continues on tomorrow with a rolling, 216km stage from Limoges to Le Lioran.
Stage four result
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step, 5:28:30
2 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie, same time
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, st
4 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st
6 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling, st
7 Dan McLay (GB) Fortuneo-Vital Concept, st
8 Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data, st
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
10 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange, st
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, 20:03:02
2 Julian Alaphilippe (fra) Etixx – Quick-Step, +12sec
3 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +14
4 Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin, +18
5 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +18
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff, st
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, st
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange, st
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac, st