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BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished 10th Wednesday at the Tour de France to remain sixth overall while teammate Tejay van Garderen kept his hold on third place, 25 seconds off the lead.

Van Avermaet was involved in one of several crashes that plagued the 189.5-kilometer race through intermittent rain and strong winds.

"A Garmin-Cannondale guy slipped away just in front of me and I went down with two guys," Van Avermaet said. "Today was really dangerous with the wet roads and the wind. Knowing how quickly you can go down in the Tour, I hope this is my only time. It was not such a hard fall, so I think I will be 100 percent for tomorrow."

Van Garderen said the weather conditions made it far from a relaxing ride on stage that featured only one bonus sprint and no categorized climbs.

"Everyone thought today was going to be the relaxed day of the tour," van Garderen said. "But the wind and the rain made it anything but relaxed. Luckily, I have one of the strongest teams here. All the guys just sat on the front all day. I never had to leave third position. It costs a bit of energy, but it is worth it to stay ahead of the splits and the crashes."

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) earned his second stage win by out-sprinting Slovakian national road champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step). Cavendish's teammate, Tony Martin, remains the race leader 12 seconds ahead of Chris Froome (Team Sky).

BMC Racing Team's Manuel Quinziato said many riders were physically and mentally tired a day after the longest stage of the race, which included seven sections of cobblestone roads.

"It was a really hard race," Quinziato said. "A lot of guys were hoping to have an easy day. But it was exactly the opposite: strong wind all day, rain and slippery roads. You had to race in the front, so that is what we did. The team rode great - every guy, starting from Rohan Dennis, who did an amazing job. And Damiano Caruso before the rouleurs like me, Michi Schär, Daniel Oss and Greg. Everybody did a big contribution to keep Tejay safe."

The fourth Tour stage took the riders from Seraing to Cambrai. There were lots of people to watch the second start in Belgium. Many GC riders weren’t looking forward to this stage because of the distance and the seven cobblestone sectors. With 223.5 kilometres, this was the longest stage of the Tour. The victory was for the German Tony Martin. Tony Gallopin rode very well again and raced attentively. He finished on place eight and is still fourth overall.

After one kilometre Thomas De Gendt attacked. He got in a breakaway with Brun, Westra and Quéméneur. At a certain moment they had a lead of more than nine minutes, but when they got closer to the cobbles, the gap decreased quickly. De Gendt was the first at the top of the Citadel de Namur and was also first at the intermediate sprint. With forty kilometres to go the four leaders were caught. Then there was an acceleration and the peloton got reduced, about fifty riders were left in front. In the finale there were attacks of among other Vanmarcke and Froome, but nobody got away. At the end Tony Martin attacked and stayed ahead. He’s the new leader. Tony Gallopin is fourth overall, at 38 seconds. André Greipel keeps the green jersey.

Thomas De Gendt: “The goal of my attack was to stay in front till after the third of six cobbled sectors in the finale, to help the teammates. But a nervous peloton made that impossible. The first cobbled sector and the intermediate sprint caused an acceleration of the bunch, so our advantage shrunk quickly. At the start I saw Westra, it’s not like him to be at the start that early and we decided to go in a break together. We hoped to be with about ten riders, but it was only a quartet. And with the headwind it was hard. I took the only point for the KOM classification today. I don’t think about it in the first ten days, but because I was riding in front, I could better be first at the top.”

Tony Gallopin: “It wasn’t easy today, but among other Sieberg and Greipel made sure I was positioned well at the beginning of every sector. It’s good that I could stay with the first group, but I was ‘à bloc’ at every sector. I wanted to attack the last two kilometres, but a very strong Tony Martin was first. Chapeau! There weren’t any problems today, but still I’m glad this stage is over. Everyone was very nervous and a crash can happen everywhere.”

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Tony Martin never gave up hope of wearing the yellow jersey at the 2015 edition of Le Tour de France, and his dream became real on Tuesday. The German rider launched a late solo attack to win 223.5km Stage 4, taking over the race lead at the Tour de France for the first time in his career. 

Martin trailed by 3 seconds after Stage 2, and was only down a single second in the overall following the 3rd stage.

Martin now leads by 12" in the overall over Chris Froome (Team Sky). Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) is 3rd, trailing Martin in the overall by 25 seconds.

 

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