The 4th stage of the Tour de France saw riders take on the cobbled roads of Northern France. It would be a thrilling stage that saw our Norwegian champion, Edvald Boasson Hagen sprint to an incredible 5th place on the stage. Tony Martin would take the stage victory after escaping with 3km to go.
After the 7 cobble sectors that covered a total of 13.3km of today’s 221km stage, it would be the strongest 35 riders that survived to contest for the stage victory. Edvald Boasson Hagen was part of this select group after some good early work by the MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung team, particularly Tyler Farrar who made sure Edvald entered the first pivotal sector in the perfect place which came with 46km to go.
Edvald would hold good position over each of the cobble sectors, ensuring he made each decisive selection as the peloton went from 190 riders to just 40 in the space of just 3km’s of cobbles. With the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) making the front split, their teams kept the pressure on in front, hoping to gain time on some of their GC rivals.
With 10km to go from the end of the last cobble sector, it looked as if a small bunch sprint would decide the day. Martin was gunning for the yellow jersey though and so instead of chancing his arm against the sprinters that remained in the front group, he attacked with 3km to go. Team Sky were happy to relinquish the leaders jersey and so there was no initial chase.
Edvald would open the sprint behind with around 350m to go before John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) came over our Norwegian in the final 50 meters. Martin crossed the line with 3 seconds to spare, enough of an advantage to pull on the yellow jersey at the end of the stage.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
It was a very good stage today. The team did well to keep me in front at all the important moments. I was feeling fine all stage and pretty good over all the cobble sectors. I was able to always stay in the first group and I thought in the end Giant would ride to have a sprint for Degenkolb but that didn’t happen. With Martin ahead I thought I would start the sprint early to have even the smallest chance of victory because my legs were still good, but we were not going to win the stage but I had to try. I am happy though and I am feeling really good at the moment.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
What a spectacular stage of the Tour de France. It was also the longest stage of the race, from Belgium to France. We already had a stage in the wind, the Mur yesterday and the cobbles today. So again it was a crazy day. The goal was to have Eddie in the final in the first group to go for a good stage result or to even win the stage. In the final he was competing for the win but we were running low on support for him. It would have been ideal if we had 1 or 2 more riders in this group. Then we would have had a realistic chance for the win that we are looking for.
It was great publicity for us though and with what we are trying to do with our 5000 bicycles campaign. The rest of the team are all well. We had no bad crashes and we look forward to our next opportunities. It was also our best result so far in the Tour de France so it is something to enjoy. It’s not quite enough to open the champagne but maybe the team mangers will still have some today.