• Fernando Gaviria after his 2018 Tour de France stage 4 victory (Getty)Source: Getty
Tour de France debutant Fernando Gaviria has thrown down the gauntlet to Peter Sagan in the battle for the green jersey.
By
Sophie Smith

Source:
Cycling Central
11 Jul 2018 - 7:47 AM  UPDATED 11 Jul 2018 - 11:41 PM

The 23-year-old bested Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in a bunch kick yesterday to claim stage four and his second victory in four days with Quick-Step Floors.

Sports director Brian Holm has asserted for months that the 23-year-old is capable of toppling the points classification on race debut. Prior to the Grand Depart that faith could have been perceived as optimism but now seems plausible both on form and attitude.

Gaviria speaks English but chose to do a post-race press conference with the aid of a translator in Sarzeau yesterday. Asked directly if he had an ambition to win the green jersey, the young Colombian pondered for a few seconds before answering with conviction.

“My will to win the green jersey, this is a hard question,” he said. “Of course I want to win the green jersey but we have to face Sagan in this fight. We are trying to earn as much points as possible and hope to reach Paris in green.”

WATCH: Gaviria v Sagan on stage 4

Sagan, 28, has won five green jerseys and currently leads Gaviria by four on the points classification. The three-time world champion is back in the maillot vert after being disqualified from last year’s Tour. Australian Michael Matthews fought valiantly to win the points classification in 2017 but won’t contest it this year, with his Sunweb team backing Tom Dumoulin for overall.

Gaviria claimed line honours after Quick-Step Floors was left to close the gap on a four-man breakaway that wasn’t caught until the final two kilometres. At one point, the only other visible teams at the front of the peloton were that of title contenders trying to stay safe.

Inside the last kilometre, Gaviria sat second on the wheel of teammate Max Richeze with Sagan right behind. Greipel opened his sprint on the other side of the road with about 300m remaining but couldn’t hold it on the line

“The sprint was so close and very difficult … it was very difficult because there were a lot of GC teams out there until the very end. That makes things messier but it’s the Tour de France and we have to race it like this,” Gaviria said.

“Andre Greipel surprised us launching that far from behind but still I was able to keep my cool, overtake him and also reach the finish line before Peter Sagan.

“From here I want to win as much as possible. I want to enjoy the sprints and whatever comes. What has surprised me [about the Tour], compared to other races before, is the size. It was true, everything I heard. It is very big and it takes everything out of you every day.”

Sprinters square off in Sarzeau
Stage 4 was the closest the 2018 Tour de France has got to a full bunch sprint, with most of the top-level sprinters getting a chance to go for the victory in the finishing town of Sarzeau.
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Sprinters' duel sees Gaviria top Sagan
The Tour peloton was owed a relatively quiet stage after the action over the first three days and that's mostly what transpired on Stage 4 with a bunch sprint deciding the outcome.