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Analytics in Action – Stage 4

Blog

Démare sprints to the win through two late-stage crashes

    Arnaud Démare (FDJ) claimed his first stage win on the Tour de France after a sprint that saw Yellow Jersey Geraint Thomas (SKY) and sprinting legend Mark Cavendish (DDD) crash dramatically.

    Pain and glory. French champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) sped to a historic victory on stage 4 of the Tour de France. That is, while some of his fiercest rivals were lying on the ground after a crash-marred sprint in the streets of Vittel. Yellow Jersey Geraint Thomas (SKY) was involved in the first crash at 44.5km/h with 1km to go. Then the sprinters went into full action and the race got nasty …

    Only 122m from the finish line, Mark Cavendish (DDD) made his move, only to be elbowed into the barriers by Peter Sagan (BOH). This earned Sagan (BOH) a disqualification from the 2017 Tour de France. Arguably the best sprinter of all-time, 'the Cav' was accelerating at 54.5km/h when he went down with John Degenkolb (TFS) and Ben Swift (UAD).

    Before the sprinters offered this dramatic showdown, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (WGG) was the main attraction of the day. Participating in the Tour for the first time, the young Belgian attacked from the get-go. No-one followed him, so he worked hard by himself for one of the longest solo rides witnessed in recent Tour history: 191km covered at an impressive average of 40.35km/h.

    The gap quickly widened with the peloton travelling at a relaxed average speed of 29km/h in the first 20km, before slowly picking up the pace. In less than an hour, the leader had opened up a gap of 9.6km over his chasers! Impressive, but not enough to hold off the peloton. Again, collaboration in a fresh peloton is almost guaranteed to overcome the attackers' efforts in these early stages of the Tour.

    Tomorrow's stage will be shorter at 160.5km, but definitely no easier, with the first serious mountain climb of the Tour: the infamous Planche-des-Belles-Filles. It’s 5.9km long and rises at an average gradient of 8.5%. This kind of terrain is much more likely to inspire attackers, while the big sprinters will be suffering at the back of the race.

    Previous Article: Analytics in Action – Stage 7 Next Article: Analytics in Action – Stage 3

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