Thu, Jul 12, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Gaviria beats Sagan in fourth stage


Poland’s Tomasz Marczynski, front left, and France’s Axel Domont, front right, grimace after crashing in the peloton during the final kilometers of the fourth stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday in Sarzeau, France.

Photo: AP

Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan have turned the first four days of the Tour de France into an enthralling duel of rising star versus world champion, with Tour newcomer Gaviria winning so far.

Gaviria on Tuesday edged Sagan at the finish line to claim stage 4 and take his second stage win in his first participation at cycling’s greatest race.

The 23-year-old Colombian had already bettered Sagan in a sprint to take the opening stage, amid rising expectations since his four stage victories at last year’s Giro d’Italia.

Sagan hit back by winning stage 2 in an uphill sprint after Gaviria had fallen in a group pileup on the final corner.

Tuesday’s flat leg with its 4km finish — the longest straightaway to conclude a leg on this Tour — was perfect terrain for the budding rivals to break the tie.

After Quick-Step Floors hunted down the breakaway to set up Gaviria, he powered ahead of the pack with handlebars swinging and crossed just centimeters ahead of Sagan and Andre Greipel in a close third.

Sagan was closing fast and seemed to be on pace to overtake him when Gaviria hit the line.

“He is faster than me,” said Sagan, the three-time defending world champion who excels in finishes on slight ascents. “We will see. Maybe I will wait for some mistake [to beat him] and maybe we will see the next days on the climbs. Every stage is different, every sprint is different.”

Gaviria finished the 195km leg from La Baule to Sarzeau that started and finished on the Atlantic coast in 4 hours, 25 minutes, 1 second.

“It was a very difficult sprint, but we knew how to pull it off,” Gaviria said. “We didn’t receive any help from the other teams to bring the breakaway back, but at the end my team deserves this victory and we can go to the hotel very happy with what we achieved.”

Defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky, who remained 55 seconds back due to his fall in stage 1, finished safely in the peloton with leader Greg van Avermaet.

Riders were enjoying a sunny afternoon until a pileup near the front of the peloton with about 5km left sent several riders to the tarmac.

However, there were no changes among the title hopefuls.

A four-man breakaway opened up a gap of more than seven minutes early on, but they were slowly reeled in by the Quick-Step-led pack with 2km to go.

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