Kittel snatches stage four from Coquard


Marcel Kittel edged another thrilling sprint at the Tour de France as another photo finish was required to separate him and Bryan Coquard on the line.

Lotto-Soudal had led the train superbly in the final kilometre of the longest stage on this year's Tour, but their sprinter Andre Greipel was unable to prosper.

Instead, it was Kittel who hit the front with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) for company, while Cocquard's sensational push for the line saw him miss out of the stage win by the finest of margins.

The Frenchman's surge was not enough to deny Kittel, the Etixx - Quick Step rider doing just enough to claim his first win of the Grand Tour and ninth overall.

After a slow stage three on Monday, the pace was very different as the peloton pushed through the 237.5-kilometre stage at good speed - Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Markel Irizar (Trek - Segafredo) and Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon) the four-man breakaway.

Schillinger took top points in the intermediate sprint, while Irizar was the first man over the only categorised climb of the day.

The quartet led into the closing 10km, but eventually were reeled in and the battle for the stage win began in earnest.

Lotto-Soudal set a ferocious pace in the final kilometre, but were unable to make it count as Kittel showed his sprinting prowess to be at the front with the line in sight.

Coquard's attempts to come from way back almost worked perfectly, but he was denied on the line as Kittel clung to claim his first win of this year's race.

After another strong ride, overall leader Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) came home in third to hold onto his yellow jersey, while the Slovakian also assumed the lead in the sprinters' classification from Mark Cavendish - who was absent from the final sprint having been boxed in.