Fernando Gaviria edges sprint battle to win Tour de France stage four

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The second stage looked like it would feature another duel between the veteran Sagan and new star Gaviria.

Besides what it did for Porte, in helping him to make up for the 51 seconds he lost on stage one, it elevated Belgian teammate Greg van Avermaet, the Olympic road champion, into the yellow jersey as overall leader. "It was climbing a little bit in a headwind and already the last five kilometers were up and down".

"It's a flawless day, " Sagan said.

It will come as a relief that all except Quintana were able to gain back that time with the help of their teams.

Speaking in Eurosport's brand new "The Bradley Wiggins Show", he said that, even though the case has overshadowed the sport all year, the Team Sky rider - and his former team-mate - has risen above all the criticism and his ability dictates he should still be the man to beat this year.

"We have to respect that he's allowed to race, and within a safe environment, and he's had all kinds of abuse at the moment and no athlete should have to go ride under that and have their safety questioned at the sport's biggest event".

Froome is 1:07 behind Sagan's leading time as he pursues a fifth Tour title.

Van Avermaet's agent, Dries Smets, is trying to put pressure on teams to quickly agree to a two-year deal to secure his rider the highest possible salary.

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The team completed the course in an average speed of 54.9km per hour to claim their second Tour de France team time trial victory. The 22.1-mile loop starts and finishes in Cholet.

Among Froome's main rivals, France's Romain Bardet lost 1:15 today and now trails the Briton by 20 seconds.

Australian Richie Porte, who had also lost 51 seconds in the first stage after being delayed behind a pile-up, benefited from his BMC team's performance to move up to 14th, four seconds ahead of Froome.

The latter's hopes of reclaiming the maillot jaune took an early hit, however, as he lost contact with the back of the Quick-Step train and the team split apart early in the stage.

After the first stage that hugged the Atlantic coast, the race rolled inland through green pastures, forest groves, and yellow wheat fields baked by the summer sun.

Plagued by suspicions regarding his misuse of asthma-related medicine, the four-time tour victor suffered a start to this morning's Tour that will have undoubtedly pleased many of those fans who had booed Froome and Team Sky earlier this week.

Ethiopia's Tsgabu Grmay became the first rider to abandon the race.

Astana climber Luis Leon Sanchez later called it quits after he fell and bloodied his left arm.

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