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"It’s a miracle how things went today. The team did such a wonderful job. They guided me on all of the cobbled sections. Also the mechanics did a super job."

Photo: Team Katusha

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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JACOPO GUARNIERI

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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07.07.2015 @ 21:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The fourth stage of the 102nd Tour de France took the peloton through seven sectors of pavé to resemble a day at Paris-Roubaix, but in the end there were few changes in the overall with the exception of a new rider in the yellow jersey. For Team Katusha it was all about protecting team leader Joaquim Rodriguez for the overall classification, and setting up Alexander Kristoff for the sprint, but an untimely flat tire derailed the sprint ambitions until a surprisingly strong sprint from Jacopo Guarnieri  gave the Italian rider a seventh place.   

 

"I’m really happy! Today the goal was to keep “Purito” safe and put Alex in the sprint, but Alex had a puncture in the fourth sector and it was really difficult to come back from that. I tried to stay with “Purito” to protect him and once we finished the cobbled sections, I asked him if it was ok if I tried the sprint for myself and he said yes, I could try. I was a little bit tired from my work earlier, but I’m very happy with seventh place among all the strong riders. I started my sprint a little far back but I gave everything today," said team rider Jacopo Guarnieri.

 

After missing the yellow jersey for three days in a row, Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick Step) took matters into his own hands and attacked the front of the main field with 3 km to go, using his time trialing skills to perfection to win the stage and take yellow. He now leads on the general classification by 12-seconds to 2013 Tour winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) and 25-seconds to BMC’s Tejay van Garderen. Joaquim Rodriguez remains in the polka dot jersey as the best climber and is only 22-seconds behind defending champion Vinceno Nibali (Astana) on GC.

 

"It’s a miracle how things went today. The team did such a wonderful job. They guided me on all of the cobbled sections. Also the mechanics did a super job. They set up a perfect bike for me and the tire pressure was just right. We all passed the test today," said Joaquim Rodriguez, currently in 18th place. 

 

"The polka dot jersey isn't a goal but it's a very nice and very historical jersey to wear. If there's an opportunity, I'll go for it later in the Tour but we're here with two goals: prepare the sprints for Kristoff and there are a few of coming from tomorrow onwards, and ride GC with myself. I've passed the pavés very well. Being at the front on a flat stage with my team-mates means that I'm in a great shape."

 

While the sectors of cobblestones were challenging, especially to riders not used to riding them, there were no real separations from the race favorites at the end of today’s stage, although Nibali showed the best form and bike handling skills in the pavé, often leading the group of favorites himself in the sectors. After the final section when Froome wanted cooperation from his smaller selection of favorites, no one would work for him and after a bike change with a teammate, Tony Martin saw the chance to earn the yellow jersey by making a solo move for the finish line in Cambari after 223,5 km of racing.

 

"This could have been a stage for me but it was a bit of bad luck when I had the puncture in pavé four.  Up until then, everything was going well and everyone was in position, but after that I was out of the race for today. We had other bad luck too with Luca [Paolini] in a crash and perhaps Marco [Haller] has a broken hand.    Of course with this bad luck we’ve also had very good luck with yesterday’s stage win from “Purito”.  Let’s hope we have more good luck in the future, starting with tomorrow," said Alexander Kristoff. 

 

Fortunately, the radiography, made after the finish of the stage did not reveal any fracture of the scaphoid of the right hand of Marco Haller, only small damage to one of the two ligaments.

 

Kristoff can try again on Wednesday as stage 5 from Arras to Amiens Métropole at 190 km should be a day for the sprinters.

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