The German sprinter accelerated around BMC's Patrick Bevin in the final metres whilst the race leader scooped up valuable bonus seconds
A 90° bend just 300 metres from the line meant that not all of the fast men found their way to the front in time, as some sprint trains lost their configuration at the final hurdle.
Bevin negotiated the bend in front, and only Sacha Modolo (EF-Education First) and Greipel were able to pass him – allowing the race leader to pick up a time bonus on the line for his third place.
How it happened
Stage four covered 183.5 kilometres, from Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa – and featured three KOM climbs within a short space of 60 kilometres, at Ilmington, Edge Hill, and Burton Dassett.
In the very early kilometres of the race, six riders broke away – they were Hayden McCormick (One Pro Cycling), Tom Moses (JLT Condor), Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data), Paul Ourselin (Direct-Energie), Matt Holmes (Madison-Genesis) and Alex Paton (Canyon-Eisberg).
Those out front represented no real threat to the general classification. The best placed rider was Ourselin, who was 45th on the general classification going into the stage – 4 minutes 23 seconds down on the green jersey.
The largest gap for the break came at kilometre 39 – when the intrepid six had a 2-20 lead – but this sunk to 2 minutes with 50km down.
Holmes took the win of both of the early intermediate sprints, in Kenilworth and Wellesbourne, making him a potential threat to the points jersey worn by Team Wiggins’ Matthew Teggart.
Reaching the KOM climb in Ilmington, the Madison-Genesis rider again took maximum points, and when the peloton reached the peak they were still 2 minutes in arrears.
The gap continued to hold until the peloton concluded that it was time to kick off the chase. Come the 60km to go mark the break had a 1-45 advantage.
Over the Edge Hill, Holmes was once again was the fastest of the break but with 47km to go the six riders had a falling lead of 1-30.
Come the final climb, Burton Dassett, Holmes was leading on the early slopes and swept up the maximum.
It was Dlamini, however, who moved into the KOM lead with his accumulated results giving him the edge on his team mate Scott Davies who wore the jersey going into the stage.
Soon after, Dlamini dropped off the back of his companions, leaving the leaders one man down with five riders. Entering Southam, with 30km remaining their advantage had been whittled down to 60s.
Coming into the final intermediate sprint, Holmes scooped up the points in a pattern we’d come to recognise. He took 100 per cent of the maximum bonus’ on offer on the day and this last result pushed him into the red points jersey for his efforts.
The last of the climbs dispatched, sprinter’s teams began furious efforts to reel in the break and pulled it down to 33s with 15km to go. Moses lost contact, swelling the numbers of the peloton by one soon after.
Ourselin attacked his fellow escapees with 9km left – but he didn’t get far, and Paton soon dropped.
With 5km to go the trio was in sight and only 13s ahead. Iljo Keisse drove the bunch for Quick-Step Floors and Holmes, finally broken, dropped back to the peloton.
The remaining two riders – Ourselin and McCormick – were caught with 3km remaining. Team Sky took over in the drive to the line, with the Great Britain team a constant presence, riding for track expert Ethan Hayter who secured fourth on stage three.
Come the flamme rouge, the likes of EF-Education First, Mitchelton-Scott, and Katusha-Alpecin were all active at the front of the bunch.
Entering the last corner, Bevin took the prime position, gaining enough distance on the bunch that only Greipel and Modolo were able to pass him on the final straight.
The German sprinter clinched the win, with Modolo taking second and Bevan making the most of bonus seconds in third, the result means he now leads over Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott) by 4s going into stage five.
Tour of Britain, stage four – Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa (183.5km)
1. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in 4-22-04
2. Sacha Modolo (EF-Drapac)
3. Patrick Bevin (BMC)
4. Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin)
5. Carlos Barbero (Movistar)
6. Emīls Liepiņš (One Pro Cycling)
7. Romain Cardis (Direct Énergie)
8. Dan McLay (EF-Drapac)
9. Andrew Tennant (Canyon-Eisberg)
10. Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins)
General classification after stage four
1. Patrick Bevin (BMC) in 15-25-11
2. Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott) at 4s
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step Floors) at 6s
4. Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) at 16s
5. Wout Poels (Team Sky)
6. Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb)
7. Bob Jungels (Quick Step Floors)
8. Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo), at same time
9. Hugh Carthy (EF-Drapac) at 23s
10. Scott Davies (Dimension Data) at 26s