Tour de France 2019: Stage 4 Preview, A Rare Chance For The Sprinters
Stage 4 of the 2019 Tour de France starts in Reims and heads east to a finish in Nancy. Expect another breakaway to form early in the day, establishing a fairly sizable lead before being brought back in the final hour, possibly just as the race hits the Category 4 Côte de Maron 15K from the finish.
The climb could make things interesting, but with so few stages for sprinters this year, look for Deceuninck–Quick Step and Lotto–Soudal to try and keep the race together for Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan, who can certainly handle an ascent as short as the Côte de Maron.
The finale in Nancy heads slightly downhill between 5K and 1K to go, with a few corners that could cause a crash or two, especially where a roundabout leads into a sweeping left-hander that looks particularly dicey. Once through there, riders should have a clear shot to the finish line.
Riders to Watch
Stage 4 is one of only a few chances for sprinters like Viviani and Ewan to win a stage during the Tour’s first week, so expect to see Deceuninck–Quick Step and Lotto–Soudal protecting them at the end of the race. Peter Sagan is always a threat, as is Jumbo–Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen (if the Dutchman has recovered from injuries sustained in a crash on Stage 1).
Race leader Julian Alaphilippe should have no trouble defending the yellow jersey, especially since his Deceuninck–Quick Step team will spend much of the day at the front trying to set up Viviani for the stage win.