• Elbows fly on Stage 4 of the Tour de France. (Getty)Source: Getty
Arnaud Demare (FDJ) claimed his maiden Tour de France win in what was a crash-marred finale to Stage 4 of the Tour de France. Peter Sagan (BORA-Hansgrohe) was kicked off the race after a decision by the comissaires on the race jury.
Cycling Central

5 Jul 2017 - 1:52 AM  UPDATED 7 Jul 2017 - 12:01 PM

Arnaud Demare brought the French a chance to celebrate, after a long drought that has seen the host nation of the Tour de France without a win in a bunch sprint since Jimmy Casper took victory for Cofidis back in 2006.

The French national champion proved the quickest of the men left up the front of the race after a succession of crashes within the final kilometre slimmed the bunch sprinting for the win down to a select few.

Launching through a hole along the barrier, Demare consigned Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) to the minor placings as he left them in his wake to take a memorable win.

The biggest point of contention came in the final few hundred metres, as Peter Sagan (BORA-Hansgrohe) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) came together, with Cavendish coming off much worse as the world champion extended his elbow as the Manxman collided with him and was sent crashing into the barriers.

The Tour de France released the information that Sagan had been excluded from the race shortly after the finish.

The aggrieved party, Cavendish, wasn't damning on Sagan's racing line after the race, but was keen to know about the elbow specifically.

A number of general classification contenders were caught up in a crash with 1.3 kilometres remaining, triggering the three kilometre rule with riders all receiving the same time as stage winner Demare.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) retained the leader's jersey, but will face a much bigger challenge tomorrow as the riders head up the imposing climb of La Planche de Belles Filles.

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As it happened

Guillame van Keirsbulck (Wanty Group Gobert) went on the attack straight from the gun, quickly building up a gap. He looked back to the peloton in disappointment as nobody deigned to join him on the long road to Vittel.

Van Keirsbulck was given a very long leash by a confident peloton, gaining a maximum advantage of 13 minutes, with the main bunch clearly not concerned about bringing back the lone rider.

With 80 kilometres had been completed, the sprinters' teams woke up and picked up the pace to reduce the deficit to van Keirsbulck.

The first intermediate sprint point saw all the top teams lining out for the sprint with all but the top position on offer as a wealth of points were on the line in the green jersey battle.

Demare proved the fastest, giving himself valuable points that, along with his stage win, ended up propelling the 25-year-old into the sprinter's jersey at the end of the stage.

Van Keirsbulck kept tapping away in his lonely rhythm after the sprint, struggling up the Category 4 mountain and collecting the single point before getting caught by the peloton with 17 kilometres to go.

From there, the rough and tumble began within the main bunch, with the workers of each squad pushing to establish their team in prime position for the sprint.   

Coming into the finish, Katusha-Alpecin and Lotto Soudal had their leaders set up in a good position until a crash with 1.3 kilometres left disrupted the race. It happened near the front of the peloton and ruled a lot of riders out of winning the stage as many were sent tumbling to the ground. 

The drastically reduced leadout trains looked around to find their leaders and in the end it was left for Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) to inject as much speed as possible for his fast man Andre Greipel.

The small group of sprinters didn't result in a safer sprint, with all the moving around and reduced speed there was a big crash as Sagan and Cavendish came together.

Demare had launched his sprint along the barriers, with Cavendish hot on his rear wheel until Sagan moved into Cavendish's line to follow Demare. As the two came together, Sagan's elbow came out and Cavendish's fate of falling into the barriers was certain.

He came down hard, bringing down John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates), who were trailing behind Cavendish.

Ahead of the carnage, Demare comfortably took out a convincing win, with Sagan and Kristoff filling out the minor placings.

Stage 4 Winners

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