Colombia's Fernando Gaviria (R) reacts after crossing the finish line ahead of Slovakia's Peter Sagan (L) to win the fourth stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between La Baule and Sarzeau, western France, on July 10, 2018.
Sarzeau (France) (AFP) - Colombian ace Fernando Gaviria edged a breathtaking bunch sprint to win the fourth stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, his second stage success after also winning the opening ride.
The 23-year-old Quick Step rider timed his sprint to perfection to overtake German Andre Greipel and hold off a fast-finishing Peter Sagan, who just got second, in a photo finish.
Team Sky leader Chris Froome, seeking a record-equalling fifth Tour de France victory, and all the key contenders to top the overall standings finished safely in the main pack.
Gaviria won Saturday’s first stage on his Tour debut and looks to be the man to beat in the sprints this year.
“Everyone in Colombia is watching the Tour de France and I feel like my nation’s representative,” said Gaviria.
“The team had to work really hard to catch the escape, nobody else was helping,” he added.
The frenetic finish was so close, the riders all watched the replay on a giant screen to see how the shares had been spoiled.
Despite a late fall in the peloton, overnight leader Greg van Avermaet of BMC held on to the race leader’s yellow jersey.
“We are happy to have kept the yellow,” said Belgian Van Avermaet.
“I hope it brings us luck in the semi-final,” he added in reference to the World Cup semi-final later Tuesday which pitches Belgium against France.
Four escapees – Dimitri Claeys, Jerome Cousin, Anthony Perez and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck – got away in the first kilometre and were only caught in the final one of a 195km stage that culminated in a head-wind on a 4km home straight.
The quartet nearly made it home after a late fall held the peloton up.
Axel Demont, an AG2R teammate of Tour de France title contender Romain Bardet, stayed on the tarmac in apparent agony.