The peloton sat up to let the trio quickly go three minutes down the road and despite the long day ahead with 213.5 kilometers on the cards, the peloton didn’t let allow the breakaway to extend their advantage beyond three and a half minutes.
Schär claimed the Côte de Rosières King of the Mountain after 121 kilometers of racing and continued to put in the lion’s share of the work at the front of the race in the final 100 kilometers, by which point the peloton began to bring the breakaway back.
A crash at the back of the peloton saw Patrick Bevin, Serge Pauwels, and Joey Rosskopf caught up but fortunately, all three were able to continue.
With 50 kilometers to go, the gap was down to one and a half minutes and over the next 20 kilometers, the peloton shaved another minute off the breakaway’s advantage and looked set to soon make the catch.
However, an attack from Schär inside the final 30 kilometers saw Offredo drop and the advantage go back up to 45 seconds in a strong attempt to hold off the peloton’s advances and the impending bunch sprint.
Schär attacked again to go solo on the final climb of the day, the category four Côte de Maron, but was eventually swept up by the peloton with 15 kilometers to go, from which point the sprinters’ teams took control of the front of the race and set the stage for the bunch sprint in Nancy, which was won by Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step).
Thanks to his dominance at the front of the race, spending 45 percent of the day at the front of the breakaway, and his solo attack in the finale, Schär took to the podium to receive the red number for the most combative rider of the day.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“Yesterday I spoke to Fabio Baldato [Sports Director] and said that I was going to try today. There is always a chance. There is never no chance. It was a long day out there but I tried and I think it’s good to have something in the evening. A combative prize is at least a little something. You never know. Maybe one day it works out and I think we had a good start to this Tour with the polka dot jersey and the team time trial was quite satisfying. I think we should keep that momentum going and try something every day until we get rewarded. I felt quite good. Already, since yesterday, I felt good which is promising for the coming days.”
“It was really disappointing to only get an advantage of two or three minutes. There is really nothing to do. When I started riding, we would give the breakaway more than ten minutes on a 200-kilometer stage easy, even 12 minutes. Now, it’s two or three minutes which is not a big margin.”
Dr. Max Testa:
“Three of our riders, Patrick Bevin, Serge Pauwels, and Joey Rosskopf, were caught in a crash at the back of the peloton. Joey was fortunate to only escape with a minor contusion on his finger. Patrick and Serge will require further examination tonight to determine the extent of their injuries but an initial examination at the bus suggests they should be able to continue racing.”
Tour de France
Stage 4: Reims > Nancy (213.5km)
Top 3: 1. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 2. Alexander Kristoff, 2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
CCC Team top 3: 33. Greg Van Avermaet, 50. Patrick Bevin, 104. Serge Pauwels