Cadel Evans Battles to Magnificent Tour de France Stage Victory
Team BMC Racing's former World Champion Cadel Evans edged defending champion Alberto Contador in a photo finish Tuesday to win stage 4 of the 2011 edition of the Tour de France Grand Tour, and Garmin-Cervélo's World Champion Thor Hushovd retained the overall Tour de France lead.
had bad luck the first day and his team wasn't suited for the team time trial."
Evans' stage victory capped what has so far been a nearly impeccable Tour for him. His BMC team fared well in the time trial, and he has avoided the many crashes that have entangled both Contador and Andy Schleck.
Evans suffered a bit of a scare with 20 kilometers to go in the 172.5 km race when he punctured, then had his path blocked by a camera motorbike that crashed in front of him. But nearly half of the BMC Racing Team quickly returned him to the peloton.
With four kilometers to go, BMC Racing Team's American road captain George Hincapie, who's competing in a record-tying 16th Tour de France, ratched up the pace at the front to string out the peloton as it approached the final two-kilometer climb. At the bottom of the final climb Hincapie left the front of the peloton and it was up to Evans himself to finish the deal.
Evans said he followed the wheel of Team Omega Pharma-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert who won stage 1. "Philippe was certainly the guy to watch," Evans said and added "It was a particular kind of finish with the wind and so on. I'm really pleasantly surprised."
"It's probably not much of a climb if you do it in training but the way the stage was, with the wet, the wind and a nervy peloton, that was pretty tough at the end of 170 kilometer," Team Sky Procycling's GC contender Bradley Wiggins told Roadcycling.com and our mobile sister site Roadcycling.mobi after the stage.
"I just conceded a few seconds at the top there but gained a lot on other people and at the end of three weeks it's not going to mean much. It was a tricky finish and it's a question of making sure you stay out of trouble again, staying upright and getting it all out so I'm pretty happy. It's still early days yet and these stages are all about not giving anything away but the real stuff is still to come," Wiggins concluded.
The stage result was likely to be a disappointment for Gilbert, who turned 29 today and was the favorite to win because of his prowess on course layouts like the fourth stage.
Earlier, Jurgen Van de Walle of Belgium became the first rider to pull out of the race - reducing the field to 197 racers. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider quit due to lingering groin pain from a crash Saturday, the team said in a statement.
Riders set off under rain in the coastal city of Lorient, whose name is derived from the 17th century shipyards and port for trading ships that hauled back spices, teas, silk, porcelain and other goods from Asia, or "The Orient."
Seemingly the whole pack began the ride in rain jackets, but gradually peeled them off as skies dried up. The roads were mostly wet, though there were some dry patches on the weaving course.
Five riders who were low in the standings