SAN DIEGO, July 4, 2012 – German sprinter Andre Greipel and Team Lotto-Belisol showed the explosive power of a great lead out train as he took the Stage 4 victory today in the 2012 Tour de France.
Greipel had four teammates leading him up to the finish, peeling off one at a time to launch him for a relatively easy victory. Credit goes to Kiwi rider Greg Henderson of Lotto for putting on the after burners and giving Greipel the final push. He could be seen raising his hands in delight behind Greipel on the finish line, as happy as if he’d won the stage himself.
Greipel didn’t give fans a showy victory salute. He may have wanted to keep both hands on his bike after a breathtaking crash just 2.6 kilometers before the finish marred the stage’s last moments. Greipel nosed out Tom Veelers, Alessandro Petacchi, Matthew Goss and Peter Sagan for the win.
Missing on this list: Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish, who was among the victims of the crash just before the finish line. He went down hard and suffered numerous scrapes, but fortunately had no serious injuries and limped across the finish line. He loses no time, but his hopes (and ours) of a duel at the finish line with Sagan and securing more points in the race for the sprinters’ green jersey were dashed. Cavendish, an Olympic gold medal hopeful for Great Britain in cycling, has more to lose than most riders if he becomes injured during the Tour.
Sagan was nearly caught in the crash himself, but somehow managed to get around the pile-up. The fact he was even competitive in the sprint finish is a tribute to his speed as he shouldn’t have been able to catch up.
Cyclists were in the saddle more than five hours today on the longest stage of the Tour. After Stage 3’s crash filled ride, it seemed Stage 4 was going to be trouble-free. A breakaway group of five riders got away at the start and led for all but five miles of the 133-mile route along the Normandy coast. The overall speed of the peloton was slower than on Tuesday, signaling a cautious approach to today’s stage. A sudden rainshower made the roads slick for a brief stretch, but the riders escaped unaffected if a bit wet, until the fireworks got tossed into the finishing stretch.
Fabian Cancellara got safely around the mess, and will hold on to the yellow jersey for Stage 6 after finishing in the peloton for the same time as the winner. Cancellara said his goal is to keep the yellow jersey for a least a week. Absent any mishaps, he should be able to do it.
Reigning Tour champion Cadel Evans of BMC, Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky, and the other top ten riders all made it safely to the finish line without incident. The leaders remain unchanged after stage 4:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
2. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Team Sky
3. Sylvain Chavanel (France) Omega-Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Team Sky
6. Denis Menchov (Russia) Katusha
7. Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) Garmin-Sharp
10. Andres Kloden (Germany) RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
Tejay van Garderen of BMC kept his white jersey as the best young rider. Michael Morkov of SaxoBank held on to his polka dot jersey as the “King of the Mountains.” Peter Sagan did enough to keep his green sprinters’ jersey with his victory, extending his lead over Mark Cavandish. Yukiya Arashiro of Japan riding for Europcar won the most aggressive rider jersey for leading the breakway. He joyfully tossed his winner’s bouquet of flowers to his fiancée in the crowd.
Three American riders managed to stay out of trouble today, which can be a victory in itself. Levi Leipheimer of Omega Pharma-Quick Step is now in 38th place, 45 seconds out. Chris Horner of Radio Shack-Nissan remains in 47th place, 1:29 out. George Hincapie with BMC is in 56th place, 2:27 back. Christian Vandevelde is in 57th place, 2:29 back.
The remaining American riders are back in the pack. Tom Danielson in 154th place; Tyler Farrar is in 162nd place; David Zabriskie is in 169th place.
One more rider abandoned the race today, the injured Maarten Tjallingii of Rabobank. Three are now out, leaving 195 riders. Danielson rode with a separated shoulder, but it remains uncertain how long he will continue. German rider Tony Martin is riding with his hand in a cast due to a broken wrist bone. The Tour is not for the easily discouraged.
Tuesday’s Stage 5 is yet again a sprinter’s stage, a perfectly flat 122-miles from Rouen to Saint-Quentin. Count on Mark Cavendish seeking his little bit revenge for being taken out of the hunt for the stage win today, pushing hard to grab more points in the race for the green jersey and the sprint win on Thursday.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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