Tour de France Stage 4 Preview: A Painless Day for the Sprinters?

A SHORTER STAGE 4 AND A LOW-KEY ROUTE ARE THE PERFECT TONICS FOR A CRASH-WEARY PACK AHEAD OF WEDNESDAY’S CRUCIAL TIME TRIAL.


By Joe Lindsey |

Stage 4 – Redon to Fougères – 150.4km – Tuesday, June 29

Stage 4 is on the eve of the 2021 Tour de France’s first individual time trial, and the steadily diminishing field will be treated to a straightforward sprint finish. That’s a blessing after another nervous, crash-filled affair on Stage 3. The race leaves the Grand Depart in Brittany to begin a long, eastward traverse of France toward the Alps, which means we’ll see many transitional stages this week.

Stage 4 is relatively short by Tour standards, at “just” 150.4km long, and unlike any of the first three stages, has no categorised climbs. This means that Ide Schelling only needs to finish the stage to retain the polka-dot jersey for the King of the Mountains Competition. The stage profile looks far lumpier than it is; the elevation profile is expanded to show pretty much every small rise or dip in the route, but the high point of the race, so to speak, is just 123 meters above sea level.

With one intermediate sprint taking place in Vitré at kilometer 114, the green jersey contenders may look to gain as many points as possible. But with this intermediate sprint happening just 35 kilometers away from the finish in Fougères, it may deter some of the contenders from going all-in, and instead, choose to save their full snap for the finish.

The big question is the breakaway: we’ll almost certainly see one, although, without KOM points on offer, the primary goal will be getting the sponsor’s logo on TV. With showers mostly backing off by late day and only light crosswinds expected, the smart money is on the pack to steadily reel in the break just in time for the finish.

Unlike Stage 3’s rollercoaster run-in to the finish, the final kilometres to Fougères are flat and mostly straight, with just a few gentler turns and the odd roundabout to negotiate in the last 5km.

Riders to Watch

This is a stage for the pure sprinters. The last time the Tour finished in Fougères, in 2015, Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish took the win, but his chances to repeat this will depend on how he comes out of the crash-fest on Stage 3. Alpecin-Fenix might be DQS’s strongest rival for sprints, with three options, including yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel and Stage 3 winner Tim Merlier. However, Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain-Victorious might crack the code yet if he gets a lead-out (his team was hard-hit by a late crash Monday).

How To Watch Stage 4

Leaving Brittany, the roads will get a bit wider, and the pack will be weary from the nervousness of the opening stages. Without much on the race route to liven things up, we don’t expect a ton of action before the inevitable build-up to the sprint finish. The intermediate sprint comes late in this stage, with just 36km to go, and that’s as good a time as any to start your livestream.

READ MORE ON: cavendish merlier sprinters stage 4 tour de france 2021

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