BMC Racing Team and Van Avermaet Successfully Defend Yellow on Tour de France Stage 410. juillet 2018, Sarzeau (FRA) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet successfully defended the yellow jersey on Tour de France stage 4 after a day of racing that saw BMC Racing Team working together up at the front of the peloton all day to ensure all eight riders crossed the line safely in another hectic bunch sprint.
It was a gently rolling 195km course from La Baule to Sarzeau today with BMC Racing Team putting Patrick Bevin, Tejay van Garderen and Michael Schär up at the front of the peloton to control the pace after four riders went clear almost as soon as the flag dropped.
The breakaway was allowed to go almost eight minutes up the road but with Schär and Bevin continuing to share the majority of the pacemaking over the first 80km of the day, the gap started to come down before stabilizing at around seven minutes.
With an almost entirely straight 3km run into the finish line, the possibility of a bunch sprint looked likely and so the sprinters' teams soon joined the chase and pulled the leaders back to inside 3 minutes at the halfway point of the stage.
BMC Racing Team continued to sit together in first part of the main bunch approaching the Côte de Saint-Jean-la-Poterie, the day's only categorized climb, and by the time they reached the top of the category four ascent, the breakaway was hovering 1'40" ahead.
With just under 60km still to race, the pace relaxed and the gap went back out to 2'55" before the chase restarted heading into the final 25km of the day.
However, the leaders were still holding onto an advantage of 1'40" at the 15km to go mark and with a more determined effort starting behind, nerves began to show in the peloton.
A crash in the middle of the peloton, which all eight BMC Racing Team riders avoided after holding their position at the front, slowed the chase slightly with less than 5km to go but in the end, the race came back together going under the flamme rouge and the sprinters got the showdown they were looking for with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) taking the win.
Van Avermaet was kept well-positioned as the final battle for position began and he eventually crossed the line safely alongside Richie Porte and the rest of his teammates to retain the leader's yellow jersey heading into stage 5 tomorrow.
Van Garderen continues to sit second overall on the General Classification with the same time as Van Avermaet while Porte remains 14th, 51 seconds back.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Greg Van Avermaet:
"It was a nice day in the beginning but it got pretty hectic in the final. The guys did a really good job to protect Richie and me. They were always on the front and we spent a lot of energy in the wind but as we saw, anything can happen and by staying up at the front we were in the safe zone. We protected ourselves and with no time loss, it was a perfect day."
"I think tomorrow will be another hard stage. It will be important to stay in front and stay safe but in the end, I think we can do more in the final. We have a strong team. I will try to be up there and I would like to make a good result. I've enjoyed my day in yellow but I also came here to try and get a stage win and I think tomorrow is my first big opportunity. A win in yellow would be even more incredible."
"We were right up at the front for most of the stage and I wasn't even aware that there had been crashes. Michael Schär, Stefan Küng and Paddy Bevin did a super job for us. Sometimes it's nice to have the jersey and therefore have the right to sit up there. It was a nice day overall."
"Tomorrow is a hard stage but it is more of a positioning battle. It's not an easy stage by any means but, I think stage 6 will be more of a test for me."
Tour de France
Stage 4: La Baule > Sarzeau, 195km
Top 3: 1. Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) 2. Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) 3. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 16. Greg Van Avermaet 45. Richie Porte 47. Damiano Caruso