Philipsen Wins Stage 4 of Tour de France
Tour de France organizer A.S.O. had designed stage 4 of Tour de France 2023 as a 181.8-kilometer ride from Dax to Nogaro. The stage was contested in almost flat terrain and appeared to be the perfect opportunity for the sprinters in the Tour peloton to prove their worth in an additional mass sprint finish.
The stage started in DAX – not the German stock index, but rather a small town in southwestern France near the Spanish border. Dax is a Tour stage host for the seventh time in Tour history. Dax has a population of 21,000 and is known for its Roman archeological crypts, the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman ramparts, the Art-Deco style Hotel Splendid, its bullfighting ring, and its duck-favoring cuisine.
The stage concluded in Nogaro – a small village that is the home of the renowned Paul Armagnac motor racing circuit, the 11th century Saint-Nicolas Collegiate Church, and known for its foie gras and its armagnac – a distinctive type of brandy. Luis Ocana - winner of the 1973 Tour de France – lived in the neighboring municipality of Caupenne d’Armagnac.
Stage 4 started in relatively calm fashion. Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Michael Gogl briefly attempted to launch a breakaway shortly after the start, but his attempt was neutralized. It appeared evident no other rider wanted to invest his energy in a breakaway attempt on a stage that was destined to end in a mass sprint.
Spearheaded by the Soudal-QuickStep team, the peloton rode the first ninety kilometers at a relaxed pace. Not least Kasper Asgreen invested much energy at the front.
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) won the intermediate bonus sprint at Notre-Dame des Cyclistes after 94 kilometers of racing. The Notre-Dame des Cyclistes chapel was created by Father Joseph Massie to create a spiritual place for cyclists. Massie was inspired by the legendary Italian chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo in Italy. Cofidis’ Bryan Coquard finished second in the bonus sprint while Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Dstny) took third. Lidl-Trek’s Mads Pedersen finished fourth.
Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroen) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkea-Samsic) launched an attack shortly thereafter, which made an otherwise boring stage more interesting for Tour de France spectators around the world. Soudal-QuickStep riders were still leading the peloton in a slow pursuit of the breakaway duo. The advantage of the front duo was kept below one minute, so Cosnefroy’s and Delaplace’s chances of success across the finish line looked slim.
With forty kilometers left of stage 4, the peloton was fifty seconds behind the breakaway duo where Cosnefroy proudly soldiered on together with Delaplace.
Delaplace was first across the category 4 Cote de Demy and thereby earned points for the best climber classification.
The breakaway duo was caught with twenty-three kilometers left of the stage and the sprinter teams were slowly preparing to set up their sprint aces for an exciting mass sprint on the motor racing circuit where the finale would be taking place.
With five kilometers left the sprinter teams were riding at 60 km/h and racing was intense. All teams were fighting for positions at the front of the peloton to position their sprinters as well as possible. Jumbo-Visma, Lotto-Dstny, and Bora-Hansgrohe were active at the front. Mark Cavendish (Team Astana) was well-positioned.
The peloton entered the motor racing circuit where the exciting high-speed finale would take place. Bahrain-Victorious was leading. A crash occurred with 1.5 kilometers left, taking down Fabio Jacobsen (Soudal-QuickStep).
Cofidis were leading for their sprinter Bryan Coquard. Multiple additional crashes affected the finale.
Jasper Philipsen and Caleb Ewan were now sprinting for the stage victory. Philipsen won the sprint across the finish line and took his second consecutive stage victory in this year’s Tour de France.
“I am very happy to take my second stage victory in this year’s Tour de France. It is an incredible feeling. I heard some crashes around me, and I hope everyone is ok,” stage winner Philipsen told Roadcycling.com shortly after the stage finish.
Adam Yates remains general classification leader for UAE Team Emirates.
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