Alexander Kristoff battled his way to a top-10 finish for UAE Team Emirates at stage four of the Tour de France.
The UAE Team Emirates were back road racing as they headed out on a flat 195km route from La Baule to Sarzeau.
The team stayed safe towards the front of the peloton for the entirety of the race, protecting Dan Martin and putting Kristoff in a good place for the finish.
In the final kilometres Kristoff showed his strength by battling hard at the front of the race to take seventh spot in a hotly contested bunch sprint.
Commenting on the result, Kristoff said: “I was in quite a good position and I came from behind with good speed. I knew this could be dangerous but I tried to go and I lost a little bit of rhythm when I started, then it’s always difficult. I had to stop pedalling two times in the last three hundred meters and I never really got up to full speed so I finished in seventh place. I need to do things better next time.”
Fernando Gaviria won stage four of the Tour de France as Mark Cavendish suffered further frustration in Sarzeau.
Quick-Step’s Gaviria edged out Peter Sagan at the line for his second stage victory of this year’s Tour, but Cavendish was left shaking a fist in anger after being caught out of position and touched by Dylan Groenewegen in the battle for space.
BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey by finishing in the front group at the end of the 195km stage from La Baule.
Cavendish, looking to add to his 30 career Tour stage wins and chase down Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34, had been unable to contest sprints on the opening two stages after getting caught up in the chaos of their technical finishes.
Here his team looked well placed on the left-hand side of the road after the peloton’s late catch of the day’s breakaway almost in sight of the finish line.
But there was another breakdown in the Dimension Data lead-out train at a crucial moment as they perhaps hit the front too soon, and Cavendish could not respond as his rivals swarmed past.
By the time LottoNL-Jumbo’s Groenewegen brushed by him, Cavendish already looked out of it.
That left Gaviria, the 23-year-old Colombian making his Tour debut this year, to put in another huge turn of power which proved too much for Sagan despite a late push.
Chris Froome and the rest of the general classification contenders finished in the main group to ensure status quo in the battle for yellow, with EF Education First-Drapac’s Rigoberto Uran successfully chasing back on after being caught in a late crash to stay 10th, 35 seconds off Van Avermaet.
UAE Team Emirates will be looking ahead to stage four of the Tour de France, keen to regain time following their disappointing 15th place finish in Monday’s Team Time Trial (TTT).
The Emirati formation – who suffered an early bout of bad luck as Oliviero Troia picked up a puncture just 9km into the race – finished 01:39 behind the eventual stage winners, BMC Racing Team.
However, Dan Martin and Co. remain positive for the coming days as they look to climb up the General Classification (GC) standings.
Commenting on the result, Martin said: “We went in with a plan and it worked well. The only real negative was the fact that Troia, who was brought in to help us in the Team Time Trial got a puncture after 9km. That maybe cost us 15 or 20 seconds at the finish line.
“Other than that, we all rode out of our skin. I felt good and more of the same over the next days and we will see how far we can go. I’m taking it day by day and there are 18 days to go so that is the way we are going to have to take it as anything can happen on any given day.”
It will be another warm day at the saddle on Tuesday as riders get back to normal racing and tackle a 195km flat route from La Baule to Sarzeau. With just one category four climb on the route, a sprint finish is expected, with UAE’s Alexander Kristoff keen to add to his two top-five finishes to date.