NANCY, France (AFP) – Italy’s Elia Viviani was too fast for any of the other top speedsters in a classic 70kph bunch sprint at the end of the fourth stage of the Tour de France in Nancy on Tuesday.
The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider won the dash for the line after he was led out by teammate Julian Alaphilippe, the overall race leader and first Frenchman to don the leader’s yellow jersey in five years.
Viviani edged Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan who were second and third on a 1.5km home straight with all the top sprinters and their lead-off trains, were active over a nervy finale.
“At last! At last I have done what I set out to do,” the 30-year-old Viviani said after his first ever Tour de France stage win.
“It’s all for one and one for all in this team, you need to defend each other and friendship goes a long way in this sport,” he said of the help Alaphilippe had given in winning his first Tour de France stage.
The unexpected role came after Kasper Asgreen suffered a bike-snapping fall on stage 3 and was relieved of lead-out duties on Tuesday.
“I needed this win,” said Viviani.
Slovak Peter Sagan retained the lead in the points standings even though he faded to fourth in a photo finish with rookie Australian Ewan.
“I took his (Kristoff’s) wheel and thought it was going to be close, but as you saw, it wasn’t,” said a relaxed looking Sagan.