Cycle//Tour de France
by Jonathan Davies
German time-trial champion Tony Martin won stage four over the cobblestones and will wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career on day five.
Martin was le Tour's unluckiest rider so far, narrowly missing out on the Maillot Jaune by a matter of seconds twice in the first three days. But having stayed with the lead group of the GC favourites through the rough terrain of the cobblestones, Martin was able to power ahead in the final kilometres, despite having to use a teammate's biker following a puncture.
“Having a flat tyre and changing a bike [I thought I had no chance],” he said.
“With five [kilometres to go], we were together. Nobody wanted to pull, so I decided to give it a try and go full gas ahead. Somehow I found some power. I don’t know what happened today. I was so nervous. I don’t know how many watts I did – maybe more than I ever did. I’m so happy.”
Despite losing the overall lead to Martin, Team Sky's Chris Froome enjoyed a strong ride, maintaining his advantage over the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana. Froome crashed out of the Tour on the cobbles last year, although it much wetter conditions, but said he can see the positives in losing the yellow jersey to Martin.
“Hopefully the guys can have a bit of a rest over the next few days,” Froom, who wasn't expecting to be in the yellow jersey so early, said.
“There’s a lot of racing to go and while Tony’s a good time-trialist, he won’t be up there with us when we go into the mountains.”
Classification after Stage 4
1 - Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 12h 40' 26"
2 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - +12"
3 - Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +25"
4 - Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) - +38"
5 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +39"
6 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - +40"
7 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +46"
8 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +48"
9 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 15"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 01' 15"
13 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - +1' 50"
16 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +2' 03"
17 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +2' 08"
21 - Romain Bardet (AG2R) - +3' 06"
30 - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - +6' 30"