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"I am just happy to have gotten through this stage unharmed. My team was incredible. They sat in the wind, on the front. They are just some hard-hitting head bangers. They paved the way for me all day. I barely had to lift a finger.&qu...

Photo: Sirotti

GREG VAN AVERMAET

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MICHAEL SCHÄR

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NEWS

TEJAY VAN GARDEREN

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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07.07.2015 @ 21:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished fourth on Tuesday's cobblestone stage of the Tour de France while teammate Tejay van Garderen held onto his third place overall.

Van Garderen finished 24th and in the same time as 34 others in a group that was chasing solo winner Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step). The longest stage of the three-week event included seven sectors of cobblestones comprising 13.3 km of the 223.5-km race.

Van Avermaet, the third-place finisher in April in the cobbled classic of Paris-Roubaix, said it was a nervous day.

"Going into every cobblestone section, there was a fight for positioning because everybody wanted to have their leader in front.," Van Avermaet said. "We kept it pretty good in the front. We were always there, always ahead of the situation. I think we did a good job. I would have preferred to have have won the stage, but Martin chose a good moment."

Van Garderen said strong teamwork was behind his solid performance a year after he crashed on a rainy, cobblestoned stage of the Tour de France.

"I am just happy to have gotten through this stage unharmed," van Garderen said. "My team was incredible. They sat in the wind, on the front. They are just some hard-hitting head bangers. They paved the way for me all day. I barely had to lift a finger."

Past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär, who led the peloton onto the final section of pavé, said he was glad to put the day behind him.

"I don't think anybody really looks forward to these kind of stages because you know it is going to be madness," he said. "We had a really clear plan going into the race and a super experienced group of riders who have worked many years together. So that makes a big difference."

Schär said another difference was a reconnaissance session last Wednesday.

"You have to move up at the very last moment to be first into the sectors," he said. "If you move up too early, like a kilometer too early, the guys come around you and then you are in position 50. We knew exactly every tree, every little hill that was coming up and we moved up perfectly. That was a key point to the result today."

In the overall standings, van Garderen is 25 seconds behind Martin, who now leads the race by 12 seconds from Chris Froome (Team Sky). Van Avermaet is sixth overall, 40 seconds back.

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