A photo-finish was again needed to identify who was first across the line on stage 4 of the Tour de France with Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step) being declared the winner.
The German rider narrowly outsprinted Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) after the longest stage of the race, 237.5 km from Saumur to Limoges, to claim his first stage win since 2014.
Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon18) and Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) jumped clear after 18 kilometres and they were then joined by Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) to build a lead of 3’50 after 35 kilometres of racing.
Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data) helped to maintain the gap around 5 minutes, which was not an easy task with the leaders travelling at an average speed of 42.3 km/h over the first three hours of racing. With 90 kilometres to go, the breakaway’s lead had been brought down to 2 minutes.
Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) was the first attacker swallowed by the peloton, 30 kilometres away from the finish-line. Schillinger, Naesen and Irizar resisted for 20 more kilometres before Direct Energie’s efforts ended their breakaway. Unfortunately for the French team, Kittel was there to edge Coquard.
Here are onboard highlights from the stage: