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Tour de France stage 4 LIVE: Mark Cavendish's best chance yet?

Manxman has another shot at a record setting 35th Tour de France stage win

Welcome back for another day when the sprinters re likely to have their way at this year's Tour de France.

Today's route heads from Dax to Noragor, with barely a lump in sight.

I, Vern Pitt, will be running the Live coverage today so if you have any comments or concerns drop me a line @vernpitt on Twitter or email cycling@futurenet.com

Today's stage is due to finish around 16.35 BST

Key developments

14.54 - Jasper Philipsen takes the intermediate sprint

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Stage four route

There's barely a bump on the course, plus the finish is on a nice wide motor racing circuit with a near arrow straight road so it's very much one for the fastest of fastmen.

Tour de France 2023 route profiles

(Image credit: ASO)

Cavendish 'happy' despite coming sixth

Mark Cavendish isn't usually one to celebrate a sixth place but he was in a upbeat mood after yesterday's stage. Safe in the knowledge that the finish didn't suit him and he still had a fairly strong showing.

"Obviously, we'd like to win, but I'm happy with how the boys rode, I'm happy with the speed. You see the team are up there with more dialled teams, the teams that do it day-in, day-out," he told the press at the finish.

You can read the full story here.

Where does everyone stand?

If you need to know the standings then we have the stuff that matters right here

Today it's all about the green jersey, which Victor Lafay currently has a hold on with 80 points.

I'm not currently at the tour and if you're reading this I'm guessing you're not either. 

Sadly that means we've missed out on stuff like this brass band. Thankfully  my Cycling Weekly colleagues have videoed it so we can all enjoy.

A Tour legend at the start today

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More marching bands! This one from yesterday's stage start.

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Supermarket wars!

Quite a baffling/irritating story from our colleague at Radio Cycling that French supermarket Leclerc has stopped the Lidl-Trek team handing out fruit because the two supermarket chains are competitors.

This does seem, to me at least, like taking competition a bit too far.

Especially as when Lidl sponsored Quick-Step a few years back I recall them having fruit that people in the paddock could help themselves to. I had a banana most days. Leclerc were already a sponsor of the Tour at that point.

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Back to the racing. What's that you ask? Where did Mark Cavendish win his 34 stages of the Tour de France?

Well we have the answer for you right over here.

There's even a link to our stories on each one so you can remind yourself how it played out.

When is the start? And the finish?

The riders are signing on now. The race isn't due to start until 12.10 BST and should finish around 16.22 BST.

Continuing sprint fall-out

Yesterday's win by Jasper Philipsen proved controversial because of the line he took form opening his sprint to the line. It was partly effected by the line of the road, which was far from straight.

Fabio Jakobsen, who in case you're not familiar suffered a life threatening crash a few years back, has just told the TV that it was dangerous finish with riders cutting first to the right, then the left, then the right again to take the shortest line to the finish. 

"It's a bit stupid I think," he said. "It's not nice for the race you get a fight for the position then a right, left, right, we want to see all the sprinters in a line. This is just dangerous.

"I understand why they do it because they win and we would probably do the same but its just not nice for cycling.

"I think the parcour builder and organiser need to look at this when it's the first bunch sprint and its like that it's almost not a fair sprint."

And they're off

The riders are rolling out of Dax with 181km ahead of them.

A chance of wind?

Well, in short, no.

The forecast for the day is warm and sunny at 24C and the wind is blowing from the west, so for most of the stage that'll be a tail wind, then for the last third or so a headwind and its actually a cross headwind on the finishing straight.

However, it's not forecast to be very strong (around 15mph) so will likely make little difference.

181km to go: We're not out of the neutral start and Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek) has suffered a mechanical of some sort, he's at the side of the road while a team mechanic works their magic.

KM0

The fag drops on the stage but no-one seems keen to go up the road just yet.

Happy independence day!

Quinn Simmons at the 2023 Tour de France

(Image credit: David Ramos / Getty)

Quinn Simmons is, as he is every day of this Tour, sporting the stars and stripes today as the recently crowned American champion.

His kit hasn't met with universal approval, largely due to the rather unsubtle Lidl logo in the center of his chest. 

He's one of six Americans in the race this year. they are:

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost)

Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma)

Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) 

Kevin Vermaerke (DSM-firmenich)

Lawson Craddock (Jayco-AlUla)

Maybe one of them will want to go in the break today?

176km to go: Ok so we're approaching 10km in and still no-one has bothered to even try and get away.

We might be in for one of these long semi-rest days the peloton sometimes take.

172km to go: Hi, it's James Shrubsall here with you for the next hour. So, what's been happening? 

Not much, you say?

The peloton is apparently grouped into pairs, chatting amiably as they go. Has anyone told them it's not a club run?

169km to go: What's happening here? Two riders have gone up the road... make that four. One Alpecin-Deceuninck, one Lidl-Trek, one Uno-X and one Lotto.

168km to go: They've been caught. Oh well, fun while it lasted.

The Bahrain Victorious team car has just come over the radio imploring its riders to please encourage someone to make a break. 

A chuckling Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirate) scoots off the front, beckoning riders, any riders, to go with him. He's not being serious though.

Still nothing to see here.

155km to go: Still no move out of the peloton, which continues to tap along very steadily. So far the riders have covered 28km in around 45 minutes. That's 38kph, a pace even I think I could hang in with, as long as there were no hills.

151km to go: One inventive Tour fan is livening things up by the side of the road, suspended on a bicycle from the scoop of a bulldozer and swung round in what was probably conceived as a graceful arc but in practice was more of a terrifying tilt-a-whirl display. Chapeau, in any case.

Michael Morkov has described being boxed in during yesterday's sprint in Bayonne, and thus being unable to deliver team-mate Fabio Jakobsen in the right spot.

Today, he says, should "finally be a very nice sprint for the line" at the Nogaro motor racing circuit. There are multiple bends in the final kilometres, he points out, but the circuit is nice and wide.

139km to go: In the absence of a break Alpecin-Deceuninck are ambling along at the front of the peloton.

How fast is not very fast in Tour de France world?

Well the bunch seems very comfortable and has averaged 37.5kph over the first hour and fifteen minutes of the race. 

They're actually going along at 44kph right now.

132km to go: My mistake it's actually a mix of riders from Alpecin and Groupama-FDJ on the front. Both teams have blue kits.

PSA: If you have a friend in your life who's just getting into cycling, perhaps they have seen the Netflix Tour de France documentary and its sparked some interest inside them, don't show them this stage.

Certainly not the whole thing. I 'm sure the end bit will be thrilling but this is more like one of those ambient albums they have on the in background of terrible cafes.

Niedermaier wins stage five of Giro Donne

Antonia Niedermaier wins stage five Giro Donne 2023

(Image credit: Dario Belingheri / Getty)

The women's Giro Done race over in Italy has been providing far more action than the Tour de France today.

Antonia Niedermaier went solo from a select group of favourites with around 25km to go in the race's queen stage and got her Canyon/SRAM team its second WorldTour victory of the year.

In the group behind Annemiek van Vleuten, who is in the pink jersey, did much of the chasing beofre clipping off the front herself, initial with Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) and eventually reducing Niedermaier's margin of victory to just nine seconds.

Van Vleuten looks impervious in that pink jersey as she held an advantage of 49 seconds at the start of the day and has extended that on everyone but Niedermaier by well over a minute.

117km to go: After a flurry of activity in which Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) increased the pace, possibly in anticipation of some wind, and a brief escape by three riders, things have calmed back down.

116km to go: Yellow jersey wearer Adam Yates is visible towards the front of the peloton perhaps mindful of getting caught out if there is any further action.

Mark Cavendish charms some fans

Word is that Mark Cavendish has so far been in a fine mood throughout his last Tour de France. This morning he was meeting some of his most long-standing fans.

107km to go: Wout van Aert is now at the back of the peloton and we've heard the TotalEnergies DS come on the radio to tell his squad to at least have someone towards the front just in case something happens.

I'm kind of in that role for Cycling Weekly today. Just here soft pedaling on the off chance that it all kicks off.

When will the finish be?

The race is travelling a hell of a lot slower than the race organiser expected.

The slowest estimate ASO gave for today was at an average of  43kph. So far the race has averaged 39kph. 

Now that will tick up nearer the finish, and indeed for the intermediate sprint in about 15km time, but if the peloton maintained a 40kph average they'd finish at 17.00 BST.

If they get to 43kph average then they'll finish at 16.35 BST.

So you're looking at some time between 16.35 and 17.00 for the finish.

99km to go: The intermediate sprint is up in about 12km or so.

With no break the winner there will get 20 points. 

Lets remind ourselves how things stand in the green jersey competition.

1. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) 80 pts
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 80 pts
3. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 52 points
4. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) 42 points
5. Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) 39 points

The question is will Philipsen go for it or save his legs for the finale?

Ice baths

There has been some chat about UAE Emirates's ice bath that is in one of their trucks at  this Tour de France.

But the idea isn't exactly new. Last year Adam Yates was using just such a thing at the Ineos Grenadiers bus.

I understand he wasn't too happy about my colleague Sophie taking the picture below, but that will happen if you take a bath in a car park at the Tour de France.

Maybe that's why UAE have a plusher set-up.

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94km to go: Just 6km to the intermediate sprint now. Mathieu van der Poel appears at the front of the peloton.

Perhaps his team-mate Jasper Philipsen is going to mount a challenge to get the jersey.

91km to go: They're not really roaring towards the intermediate sprint with the peltoon spread right across the road.

90km to go: We're half-way through folks! Stay strong! Stay the course! We can do this.

89km to go: Alpecin-Deceuninck line out on the left of the road while Lidl-Trek and Mads Pedersen line up on the right. Looks like it might be mostly between these two.

Jasper Philipsen takes intermediate sprint

In a pretty hotly contested intermediate sprint Philipsen comes out on top. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), in part helping his team-mate and green jersey wearer Victor Lafay, came second while Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Dstny) was third.

Attack! Attack!

An AG2R rider and an Arkea Samsic rider have gone off the front.

They are Anthony Delaplace (Arkea Samsic) and Benoit Cosnefroy (Ag2R Citroën).

The pace is a murderous (by today's standards) 47kph.

85km to go: The two out front have instantly been given a gap of 28 seconds and it has going up fairly fast.

81km to go: Vincent Laveneu, manager of AG2R Citroën, tells the TV broadcast that he basically told his riders to get one of them up the road to get on TV. 

That's hardly surprising but it's mildly interesting that he made the call.

He says the riders were getting a bit bored rolling along at the mid tempo they've ben doing. 

Chance of crashes?

Usually you associate crashes with hard and fast racing, with competing for space on narrow roads but I fear days like today can also be a recipe for crashes as riders become less attentive.

You get bored and the mind wanders and a touch of wheels can still bring a whole bunch of riders down. Days like today are not without their dangers.

Thankfully we have not had too many abandons at this year's race so far with just Richard Carapaz and Enric Mas having so far left the race following a crash on stage one.

74km to go: The bunch is travelling at about 42kph and is a bit more strung out now than it has been for most of the day.

What is an attack worth?

71km to go: The two out front are clearly in search of the combativity prize for the day.

How much is that worth? €2,000 (£1,700 / $2,180)

The winner also gets to wear gold numbers the next day. They used to be red but have changed this year as a new sponsor has come on board.

However, if you do it enough then you might get the super combativity prize at the end of the race. That is worth a chunky €20,000 (£17,000 / $21,800)

69km to go: The break has 1-13 over the peloton now. The pace is now pretty high at 55kph.

66km to go: Alpecin-Deceuninck, Soudal - Qucik-Step and Jayco-AlUla have all committed men to the chase of the two out front.

65km to go: Robbie McEwan on GCN+ has just made a point that adds to my post about crashes a while ago.

With the peloton going so slowly, he says, things in the sprint can get more crowded as more riders feel they have the legs to compete and that too can lead to crashes.

61km to go: The break's advantage has ticked under the one minute mark. I can't imagine the peloton is keen to catch them any time soon though.

A little preview of the run in to the final kilometer, plus some gentle F1-based ribbing from EF Education, here.

In case you don't know, Lewis Hamilton who drives for Mercedes, which is sponsored by Ineos - same as the bike racing team - was one of a raft of drivers slapped with a ten second penalty for driving off the track too much at the Austrian Grand Prix at the weekend. As a result he fell down the standings.

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How far is left?

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50km to go: The Israel-Premier Tech DS comes on the radio to tell the riders the entry to the motor racing circuit that the race finishes on is just 1.5 cars width, so that'll be areal pinch point at the finish.

That entry to the motor circuit comes at just 3km to go, which, experienced watchers will know, is the point at which the GC riders no longer have ot kill themselves to stay with the ront of the race.

So there will be a lot of people moving up and moving back as that pinch point arrives.

On a more pleasant note there's a a picture of a nice chateaux from the helicopter on the TV.

Chateaux on the route of the Tour de France 2023

(Image credit: GCN+)

47km to go: The break's advantage has been coming down and now stands at just 36 second.

40km to go: The break's margin has climbed slightly to 44 seconds.

How hard do you need to go in the break?

The bods over at the Tour de France have been doing some number crunching.

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35km to go: It has been the same three teams working on the front for quite a while now, possibly even the same three riders. But they show no signs of tiring. With just two riders in the break it's not too difficult to keep them on a short leash.  

Nerves are starting to set in it seems.

34km to go: Louis Leon Sanchez (Astana) has a mechanical problem. He's key to Mark Cavendish's lead out so not ideal, but a Cofidis mechanic helps him out and he'll make it back on just fine.

20km to go: It's all together as the sprinters teams start to form their lead-outs.

19km to go: Jumbo-Visma, Alpecin-Deceuninick, Lotto-Dstny, DSM-firmenich, Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain Victorious are all present at the front all in a line taking up the whole of the road.

17km to go: The speed is up to 60kph as the kilometers tick down swiftly now.

You can really see how organised all the teams are from the helicopter shots.

Helicopter shot of the peloton

(Image credit: GCN+)

The Paris Olympic road race course is out after the stage, just FYI.

13km to go: The peloton splits around some road furniture and everyone is through safely.

11km to go: It's rolling pretty fast. If you're trying to spot your cohsen rider it helps to know their number.

You can look that up on the startlist here.

11.5km to go: Mark Cavendish is on Peter Sagan's wheel. That's curious considering they don't get on very well.

But Sagan is well known for being able to navigate the bunch so there are worse people to follow.

8km to go: Fittingly for independence day, Quinn Simmons shows himself at the front of the peloton driving the Lidl-Trek train.

7km to go: The pace increases ahead of a turn in the road.

6.5km to go: Some riders lost a big fistfull of places going the wrong way around a traffic island there. Sam Wlesford from DSM seemed to be the worst effected. Cavendish dropped back a bit too.

5.5km to go: There's a big fight for position into the next turn. Astana go the wrong way around the roundabout and put themselves further on the back foot.

4.4km to go: The organisation is disintegrating and it's a bit more a bun fight for position now.

4km to go: The gates which are pinch point are about 1km away.

3km to go: Jumbo-Visma come to the front of the peloton. Cavendish and Girmay are also present towards the front.

2.5km to go: Jumbo, Bahrain and Lotto are all competing for the front but it's lined out. We're onto the circuit now.

Jakobsen went down!

A lotto ride is down too.

They come under the flamme rouge.

Jasper Philipsen wins stage four

Big turn now into the finishing straight there's another crash. A third crash. Philipsen comes through for the win.

Caleb Ewan lost it on the bike throw. Phil Bauhaus was third with Cavendish fifth about a bike length or two further back.

Well that was an extremely back loaded stage. Go check out the race report here, if you want to know concisely what happened.

Jasper Philipsen stamps his authority on Tour de France as Mark Cavendish loses out in chaotic sprint

We'll be back with more coverage tomorrow as the race hits the Pyrenees.

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