Following the British Riders on the Tour de France - Stage 4
STAGE 4 IMAGE OF THE DAY
Lovely, moody pre-stage shot of Geraint Thomas on his way down to the start of the stage in the rain (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Stage 4 saw the short, sharp uphill finish to the Mûr de Bretagne put a few time gaps into the field, though stage winner Cadel Evans and runner-up Alberto Contador could not gain anything over yellow jersey man Thor Husovd, who showed once again that wearing the leader's yellow inspires riders.
The British contingent faired pretty well. Ben Swift and Mark Cavendish opted not to get involved in the sharp end of the stage, losing time on the final climb, but conserving valuable energy in the process, energy they can use to good effect in the next few days.
Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Geraint Thomas all kept themselves in the race, losing only a handful of seconds each on the final ascent. They too know that important battles lie ahead and for them, stage 4 was all about limiting losses.
STAGE 4 ON TWITTER
Mark Cavendish's Tweets are the most eagerly awaited post stage. A quiet day for the HTC sprinter, who was never going to be in contention up the final hill, brought forth only a couple of new tweets. Firstly an update on his earlier pledge to share a pic of team-mate Bernie Eisel's injured backside with all his female fans:
He won't show us his bum cheek, but for you ladies: here's Bernie Eisel using his #compex system... Enjoy twitpic.com/5ln82w
And then a typically tangential and touching insight;
For those of you who wondered if there'd be tears this year, it's happened. My ex-girlfriend called this morning. Our dog got put down. #sad
Also in the mix was an exchange with Formula 1 mate, Jensen Button, who is following the race and tweeted
"Good job yesterday considering... Go get'em big guy!!"
David Millar, former rebel and now a man with a book to promote, confined his post-stage Twittering to one of the unwritten rules of the Tour, namely that the wearer of the Yellow jersey be afforded a certain amount of respect and leeway in the hurly-burly of racing. His team-mate Thor Hushovd (and was there ever a man who was less in need of someone to stick up for him?) produced arguably the ride of the day to make it to the top of the final climb so close to the stage winner that he retained the yellow jersey. Millar, so long the rebel and the revolutionary, then came over all traditional and conservative. His Tweets also illustrate the tribalism of the Tour and team spirit which both inspires and psychologically buoys up the riders through the long three weeks of racing:
Maillot jaune should be respected in the peloton. Fighting for position all day with Thor. Some riders should be ashamed with themselves.
Maillot jaune is a very special jersey, commands respect for positioning etc, no matter who wears it. Unwritten etiquette of cycling.
It's what I love about cycling. The weird nonsensical peloton rules. I'm just an old romantic.
Geraint Thomas's Tweets retained their usual humorous slant, with news from home occupying him more than the Tour:
My girlfriend just got her results and emailed them to me...No idea what it means but must be good for her to do that? unless she speechless
Just had confirmation that they were very good. 'first' material!! Think I'll have a celebratory welsh cake.
Ben Swift, who lost a little time at the end of the stage, limited himself to one tweet about the day, but, ever the pro, managed to slip in a plug for a sponsor!
Tough day in the saddle today, dead roads and wet. All good fun. @cnpcycling cola gel came in a treat today. Looking forward to massage.
Also catching the eye was an interesting quote from journalist William Fotheringham, who tweeted
My man of the Tour so far is Christian Prudhomme. OK, the riders do the racing, but you have to give them a route that gives them the chance" - the last couple Tours have attracted some criticism for their routes, when announced. However, once the racing has started, they have produced exciting, balanced and unpredictable racing. Which is what it's all about!
Finally, for light relief, a couple of caustic comments from Bradley Wiggins which we missed from the day before:
A lot of middle aged men in this part Of France smuggling budgies! Not pretty
The Tour has to be the biggest hanger on convention in the world
STAGE 4 VIDEO
Ben Swift looks back on Stage 4
STAGE 4 RESULTS TRACKER
Stage 5 Result
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 4:11:39
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
7 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack
11 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:06
22 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:08
29 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:08
97 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:55
150 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad 0:04:17
General classification after stage 4
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo 13:58:25
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:01
3 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:00:04
4 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:08
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:10
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:12
8 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek
49 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:06
94 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad 0:04:22
1 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 82 pts
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 80
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 77
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo 70
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 68
12 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad 34
21 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 22
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 2 pts
2 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 1
3 Mickaël Delage (Fra) FDJ 1
4 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 1
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 1
Young rider classification
1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 13:58:37
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:01
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:08
5 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:46
11 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:54
1 Team Garmin-Cervelo 41:05:55
2 Sky Procycling 0:00:02
3 Leopard Trek 0:00:04
4 Team RadioShack 0:00:10
5 HTC-Highroad 0:00:13
6 Pro Team Astana 0:00:49
7 Movistar Team 0:01:15
8 Team Europcar
9 Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:21
10 Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:34