The 214.5km fourth stage of the 99th Tour de France – from Abbeville to Rouen – featured four hills, all of them cat-4.
Once the escape of the day reached an advantage of almost nine minutes the Lotto-Belisol team moved up to the front of the peloton and began to consider the sprint that was expected in Rouen. Although it was the fourth longest stage of the 2012 Tour de France, from Abbeville to Rouen, the real action came in the final three kilometres. That’s when the jostling for position started in earnest and the lead-out trains started to form. Up near the head of the peloton, it appears a touch of wheels brought down Robbie Hunter, who slipped and thudded down onto the road, bringing down Mark Cavendish, taking him out of contention for the sprint.
Up ahead, Lotto-Belisol finished off what they started early in the stage. With four from the Belgian team at the head of the peloton leading in to the final kilometre André Greipel was delivered to perfection. Greg Henderson was the last man ahead of him and, once the New Zealander peeled off, the German simply drag raced the others to the line. No one could match is pace and the veteran sprinter earned his second success in the Tour de France, his first at this year’s race.
Cancellara finished in 119th but with the same time as the winner. He will wear the yellow jersey in stage five.
Bernie Eisel had to be treated for stitches, and injury reports coming in from the injured riders suggest plenty of grazes and bruising but all riders will start tomorrow’s stage 5.
According to Robbie Hunter’s latest tweet. “List of injuries: skin gone in a few more places, back, arms & hips. Back really sore from impact & coughing up some red stuff. #allgoodthough!”