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195 KM (FLAT) - LA BAULE > SARZEAU 4'25"01

Another eventful day for the lads of Wanty-Groupe Gobert, who continue to animate the early stages of the 2018 Tour de France. Pasqua's teammate Guillaume Van Keirsbulck got himself into the break of the day, only to capitulate 1 km from the finish after a monumental effort. Pasqua sprinted to 6th spot, whilst teammates Smith (9th) and Dupont (10th) ensured the Wallonian outfit secured team of the day.
Profile of Stage 4 2018 Tour de France La Baule > Sarzeau
The flat profile always lent itself to a long breakaway, ending in a bunch gallop. Following a crash in the neutralised zone for BORA - hansgrohe's Marcus Burghardt the start of the race proper was slightly delayed while the German recovered. As soon as the flag dropped four riders jumped away - GVK along with two riders from Cofidis, former teammate Dimitri Claeys and Anthony Perez, and Jerome Cousin of Team Direct Energie. The peloton seemed relieved that the main business of the early part of the day was decided quickly and cleanly, and promptly fell asleep for 185 km. As did everyone watching the race.
Stage 4 Profile: La Baule > Sarzeau
Stage 4 route 2018 Tour de France La Baule > Sarzeau
Stage 4 route 2018 Tour de France La Baule > Sarzeau
The gap did go out up to 8 minutes but was gradually reeled in over the second half of the stage. The bunch, however, were incapable of organising an orderly chase and with a few km remaining the escapees started to build their lead once again. There seemed to be confusion behind with no-one really wanting to take up the pace. In the confusion, GVK sneaked away while the other three slipped back into the pack. He dangled off the front until the final km, only to be swamped by an over-exuberant Team Dimension Data lead out train, hitting the front what appeared to be very early.
GVK get's into the break of the day
GVK get's into the 4-man break of the day
Another nervous crash with a few km to go held-up half the bunch, but three WGG boys managed to avoid the mayhem and sprint it out with some of the real fastmen.
Pasqua gets in the final frame - just
Pasqua (behind Greipel) mixing it with the big boys
There cannot be too many occasions when a guy wearing the King of the Mountains jersey has raced to a top ten finish on a classic flat sprinters stage, but that's exactly what Dion Smith achieved. He's clearly having the time of his life in this tour.
Long day in the saddle for GVK out front
Long day out front for GVK
Despite Perez taking the single KOM point on offer and joining Smith, and Kevin Ledanois on 1 point each, Dion retained his lead in the competition by virtue of his GC position. Surely though he will need to surrender it at the end of tomorrow's stage, which features five categorised climbs.
Dion Smith, the only Kiwi to wear the KOM jersey for 3 consecutive days
Smithy - 1st Kiwi to wear the KOM jersey for 3 consecutive days
Here's what GVK had to say about his grand day out:
"It was a very difficult day, sometimes it had to go full on the climbs. Halfway race we had more than 7 minutes advantage on the peloton,. Then we saved ourselves a little and the last 40 kilometers we had to go full gas. We started riding at full speed and I did not expect the peloton to close the gap so quickly.

In the end I did everything I could for the stage victory, but I was caught in the last 900 meters. In the final phase the wind was at a disadvantage. I did not try to accelerate earlier because of that. If the finish was one kilometer earlier I would have won, but unfortunately that was not the case.

I hope the peloton will feel these efforts. Cousin wins the combativity? Well, he is French. And tonight the Belgians will win!"

Pasqua on his sprint: 

"With the headwind it was a difficult. I was a bit blocked in the sprint, but a sixth spot in this field is a great result. Uphill finishes suit me better so I will try my chances over the next days. In Quimper and on Mur de Bretagne I want to show my legs. I don't know the final yet, but I want to be in front!"
And later on Twitter:
Andrea Pasqualon tweet following Stage 4 2018 Tour de France
Pasqua's legs seem to be in great shape, tomorrow's more rolling profile could suit his lighter frame and ensure some of the bigger sprinters are dropped before the finish.
Highlights of Stage 4
And the boring ASO summary...
Fernando Gaviria claimed his second Tour de France stage victory in just four days as he outsprinted Peter Sagan and André Greipel on the spectacular 4-km long finishing line of Sarzeau. Greg Van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey.
Check back tomorrow for more from inside the peloton at the 2018 Tour de France.
Photo (c) A.S.O.

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