It was Stage 4 of the 2018 Tour de France and Fernando Gaviria took full advantage of a perfect delivery by his slick Quick-Step train to take victory number two in a three-way sprint-royale for the line. The Colombian hotshot had to give an extra kick to keep ahead of a flying Andre Greipel. Peter Sagan just squeezed past the German to nab second place and more points for the green jersey. Greg Van Avermaet stays in yellow, but a crash with 5km to go left Rigoberto Uran scrambling back to the peloton for a second team time trail in two days. Ilnur Zakarin wasn’t so lucky, losing nearly a minute as he was left to ride in alone while Katusha-Alpecin were working for Marcel Kittel.
Rider of the Race
What a doozy of a sprint finish! There’s no doubting Gaviria has brought his A-game to the La Grand Boucle. Two victories in his debut Tour, the first rider to achieve this since Rafal ‘The Winker’ Majka in 2014 is certainly worthy of consideration for a VeloVoices award.
And yet, my vote today goes to his poisson-pilote extraordinaire Ariel Maximiliano Richeze.
Let’s have a close look at the final kilometre and marvel at his wizardry. I love these videos of a sprint in momentum, the riders switching and flicking as the tension builds, the point at which we all start holding our breath.
As we pick it up, only Richeze remains with Gaviria and they’re boxed in. We get a glimpse of the Argentinian locked to Alexander Kristoff’s (UAE-Emirates) wheel then suddenly switching right to John Degenkolb‘s (Trek-Segafredo). With 650m to go the tiniest gap opens on the barriers to the right and with lightening-fast reflexes the Wolfpack duo seize their opportunity. By 400m Richeze has opened a huge gap and is still accelerating to place his sprinter in the right place at the right speed – he doesn’t pull over until around the 250 metre mark. Simply superb.
World Cup fever
Not only was the Tour de France delayed by a week to allow for the festival of football, tonight’s semi-final sees two fervent cycling nations go head to head as France take on Belgium.
The occasion delivers a frisson of tension to the Wolfpack
The four-rider breakaway that gave the Quicksteppers a run for their money was split down the middle on national lines – pretty sure there was a lot of banter.
A slow day at the Tour
Some days, the action is just plain slow. The break goes away, the peloton drifts across our screens and we all keep half an eye on something else as we wait for the end game to start. It’s days like this that Twitter is worth its weight in gold. Field Art, Chateau and #TourSnacks – that’s where the action is, people! A special shout-out to the couch peloton in Australia who never fail to make me laugh.
And of course, there’s always NYVelocity and his tractor love
Hide my eyes!
Last word to Lois again …
1 Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) 4:25:01
2 Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) same time
3 Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) s/t
4 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL Jumbo) s/t
5 Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 9:08:55
2 Tejay van Garderen (BMC) same time
3 Geraint Thomas Sky) +0.03
4 Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) +0.05
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) +0.07
6 Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) same time
7 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +0:11
8 Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) same time
9 Michael Matthews (Sunweb) s/t
10 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale) +0:35
All the jerseysEmbed from Getty Images
Leader’s jersey: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
KOM jersey: Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe gobert)
Best young rider: Soren Kragh Anderson (Sunweb)
Most combative: Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie)
Listen to Stage 4’s VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too!
Header picture: © Justin Setterfield/Getty Images