Tour de France: Jasper Philipsen makes it two from two at the Tour de France

Belgian sprinter delivered to perfection by Van der Poel, pips Ewan on the line to win stage 4

Clock08:14, Tuesday 4th July 2023
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) appeared the faster of the pair, but Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) benefitted from Mathieu van der Poel’s slingshot

Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) appeared the faster of the pair, but Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) benefitted from Mathieu van der Poel’s slingshot

In a crash-filled finale to stage 4 of the Tour de France, it was Alpecin-Deceuninck and Jasper Philipsen who emerged without a scratch to win his second stage in succession and pull on the green jersey.

In a largely subdued stage, dubbed by Philipsen as “really easy,” the peloton rode most of the day together with few candidates showing themselves to form a breakaway.

The pace picked up as they approached the Nogaro motor circuit, but after turning onto the track 2.4km from the line, crashes and chaos ensued with the likes of Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-QuickStep) and Jacopo Guarnieri (Lotto Dstny) hitting the deck. It was Alpecin-Deceuninck who took advantage of the confusion and delivered Philipsen with a perfect lead-out courtesy of the phenomenal Mathieu van der Poel.

Beating Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) by half a wheel length, Philipsen took his second stage victory of the race, with Bahrain VictoriousPhil Bauhaus rounding out the podium to produce the first three finishers as yesterday.

Alluding to the frenzied nature of the final kilometres, Philipsen said, “It was a hectic final with the turns in the end and I lost my team as well. In the final straight, I found Mathieu van der Poel again and he did an amazing pull to get me to [the] victory, but my legs were cramping and Caleb [Ewan] was coming close!”
“It’s a nice finish, but I thought it would be a bit more safe. It has wide roads but the turns were tricky and [we went] full gas, so luckily the tyres were good enough to avoid slipping away,” he said with relief. “I think it is looking good so far for the green jersey, but we have only ridden four stages and the Tour is a long way, so we will try and defend it.”

How it happened

Setting out from Dax, viewers may have been forgiven for wondering whether or not kilometre zero had been and gone over the course of the first hour, as the peloton trundled along at a relaxed pace and only one half-hearted effort to produce a breakaway was mounted.
Michael Gogl (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) briefly emerged off the front, but the peloton only covered 37.5km of road in the first hour of so-called racing. Without a breakaway, the peloton casually made their way between Dax and Nogaro, with brief excitement found in scenes reminiscent of stage 5 of Paris-Nice 2021 with 119km to go.
Sensing the danger of crosswinds, Belgian quartet Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Dries Devenyns (Soudal-Quick Step), Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën) and Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Dstny) drove the pace for a couple of kilometres until the peloton returned to its slumber and the danger was avoided.

The action could not be avoided for much longer, however, and with the peloton all together at the front of the race, the intermediate sprint in Notre-Dame des Cyclistes took on even greater importance. Backing up his stage victory from yesterday, Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) picked up maximum points to take hold of the virtual green jersey, with Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny), Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) and Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) coming second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Following the intermediate sprint and before the peloton had a chance to stamp its relaxation back on the race, Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic) and Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën) attacked off the front and were able to establish the day’s breakaway. This came after 100km of uninterrupted soft-pedalling by the peloton.

With the breakaway established, the usual motley crew came to the front of the bunch to keep things in check, with Alpecin-Deceuninck, Jayco AlUla and Soudal-Quick Step swapping turns on the front.

The gap was briefly allowed to rise above a minute between the leading French duo and the peloton, but they were very much kept on a tight leash by the bunch and entering the final 30km, the gap hovered just above 30 seconds.

This was not to be a day for the unexpected breakaway as they crested the only categorised climb of the day, with Delaplace picking up maximum KoM points without any fuss. Remarkably, it was the first time that the 33-year-old had led the race over a categorised climb at the Tour de France since stage 4 in 2012.

With 25km to ride, the pair were casually mopped up by the peloton and battle stations were prepared for the intense fight that was to ensue for position amongst the sprinters’ teams.

The relaxed approach to the stage had perhaps not prepared the peloton for the chaos that was to ensue, with multiple crashes to come as Jumbo-Visma led the bunch onto the Nogaro in pursuit of success with Wout van Aert. It was not to be Van Aert’s day, but nor would it be Fabio Jakobsen’s, with the Soudal-Quick Step sprinter coming down in a crash alongside Caleb Ewan’s Lotto Dstny lead-out man, Jacopo Guarnieri.

Guarnieri’s misfortune was not to dissuade Ewan, who emerged as Jasper Philipsen’s (Alpecin-Deceuninck) closest contender as the pair sprinted over the finish line. Following an exquisite lead-out by Mathieu van der Poel - amongst the melee of crashes suffered by Søren Wærenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling) and Axel Zingle (Cofidis) - Philipsen crossed the line first to take his second stage victory in succession.

Behind the leading trio of Philipsen, Ewan and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) finished without incident in the peloton to take the Tour’s yellow jersey into the Pyrenees on stage 5. Philipsen, meanwhile, was rewarded by pulling on the green jersey for the first time in his career.

Dan Lloyd's GCN Analysis

Is flag-to-line racing coverage always a good thing?

On a stage like yesterday, no.

Live coverage of every kilometre of the Tour de France is a relatively recent development. Previously, we’d have it for selected stages, whilst for the others, we’d have to wait for the final two or three hours of the stage. On many occasions, that was incredibly frustrating - social media race updates would portray a stage in which it was ‘all kicking off’, but there was no way to watch it.

From that perspective, wall-to-wall coverage has been a godsend. Early break formation is one of the most intriguing parts of the sport, as are crosswinds, and we get to see more of both facets than ever before. The problem comes on stages like we saw yesterday - my fear is that someone switches live cycling on for the first time, and wonders why on earth anybody would spend time watching a sport in which literally nothing is happening.

There’s a conundrum here, though. Live television coverage takes months of planning, and nobody can forecast whether the wind will blow in the right direction for crosswinds, or if the peloton might have a ‘go slow’ for four hours before winding things up for a sprint.

Live coverage is not going to revert to what we had before, nor should it, so the question is; how do we ensure there’s an incentive to race, and as a consequence, entertain? Shorter sprint stages? More bonus seconds available en route? Bigger cash primes? There are a lot of ideas floating around, and I don’t profess to know the answer.

Of course, for many fans, nothing should change - slow days like yesterday are simply part and parcel of the ebbs and flows of any Grand Tour - perhaps they’re right.

Race Results

1

be flag

PHILIPSEN Jasper

Alpecin-Deceuninck

4H 25' 28"

2

au flag

EWAN Caleb

Lotto Dstny

"

3

de flag

BAUHAUS Phil

Bahrain Victorious

"

4

fr flag

COQUARD Bryan

Cofidis

"

5

gb flag

CAVENDISH Mark

Astana Qazaqstan Team

"

6

nl flag

VAN POPPEL Danny

BORA-hansgrohe

"

7

no flag

KRISTOFF Alexander

Uno-X Pro Cycling Team

"

8

si flag

MEZGEC Luka

Team Jayco-AlUla

"

9

be flag

VAN AERT Wout

Jumbo-Visma

"

10

dk flag

PEDERSEN Mads

Lidl-Trek

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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