A hectic bunch sprint on stage 4, marred with multiple crashes in the final kilometer, played out after a calm day of racing as the peloton gears up for the first mountain finish on stage 5.
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty- Groupe Gobert) attacked after KM 0 and found himself solo in front, leading the peloton to sit up and let the gap go out to more than eleven minutes.
Despite just one rider being in front and a relaxed approach from the bunch, a steady pace was set throughout the 207.5km stage until the chase started inside the final 100km.
Van Keirsbulck was eventually brought back with 17km remaining and the sprinters’ teams assumed their position at the front of the bunch.
As the battle for position started, Richie Porte remained protected and well-positioned by his BMC Racing Team teammates ahead of the first General Classification showdown on stage 5.
Inside the final 500 meters, as the sprinters were trying to hold their line, a large crash occurred at the front of the bunch taking down yellow jersey-wearer Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
In the final push for the line another crash happened and out of the chaos Arnaud Demare (FDJ) took the win.
In dramatic scenes after the race, Peter Sagan was disqualified for elbowing Mark Cavendish into the barriers at the finish in the sprint to the line.
Fortunately, all of BMC Racing Team’s riders stayed upright to finish safely in the bunch.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It wasn’t so hard but it was pretty stressful there in the final. There were a couple of big crashes. Thank god for the three kilometer rule. I’m super motivated for tomorrow. All of the guys in the team are motivated for tomorrow as well. I think we just have to see how the race goes but I expect it to be absolutely full gas. It’s the first big test of the Tour de France in 2017.”
“The priority was to arrive safely so the guys were working to keep Richie Porte in position going into the final 3km and they did a good thing to stay a little bit behind. I didn’t see what happened with the crash but it looked like it was pretty bad what happened in the front. We hope to have a good result tomorrow. Richie is good, the team is good around him. We’ll go for it.”