Tour de France - Stage Four guide: Tough time for sprinters

Tue, 05 Jul 10:05:00 2011

Norway's Thor Hushovd sets out to retain the leader's yellow jersey in the tough 172.5-km fourth stage of the Tour de France in Brittany between Lorient and Mur de Bretagne.

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Stage 4 – Tues, 5 July – Lorient-Mur de Bretagne – 172.5km

Type: Up and down

Difficulty: ****

Details: With the exception of the opening 30-odd kilometres, there's hardly any flat in today's stage, which culminates with the gruelling ascent of the Mur-de-Bretagne. Given the terrain, this is hardly one for the sprinters – in fact, this tricky stage could well give us an early indication of who really means business in this year's race.

Watch out for: The Mur-de-Bretagne, which stands at almost 300m and features a steep 2km climb (with an average gradient of 6.9 per cent) very much in the Spring Classics mould.

Prediction: This one has Philippe Gilbert written all over it – and to make it all the more ideal, the Belgian will be celebrating his 29th birthday on the same day. Also look out for Cadel Evans or one of the local French riders – if Thomas Voeckler hasn't already picked up a stage in the Vendée, he might well be tempted to have a pop.

History: When the Tour last passed over the Mur-de-Bregtagne, in 2008, Frenchmen Sylvain Chavanel and Thomas Voeckler were riding clear of the peloton. They were joined by two more compatriots, Christophe Moreau and David Lelay, who attacked on the Mur moments before race leader Alejandro Valverde collided with an enthusiastic spectator. The Gallic foursome was swept up just 2km from the finish in Saint-Brieuc, the stage being won by Thor Hushovd.


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