Belgium Wout van Aert won the hilly fourth stage of the Tour de France and extended his overall lead, while finishing second Jasper Philipsen celebrated as a victor… because he thought he won the stage in a bunch sprint eight seconds behind van Aert.
Philipsen said he thought he won “two or three seconds”. When he crossed the finish line, the third rider was driving Christophe Laportea teammate of van Aert, be ahead to show Philipsen that van Aert had already won.
“We were a bit too far back, so we couldn’t see Van Aert all the way up front, and I had a really bad connection [communicating with the team]said Philipsen, part of the peloton trying to bring in Van Aert, who broke away on the final climb with about six miles to go, leading by nearly 30 seconds. “So, yeah, I just thought we were sprinting for the win. Then I see him right in front of me when I cross the finish line.”
Van Aert retained the leader’s jersey for the Jumbo-Visma team after taking it for the first time that Saturday. He also extended his lead in the green jersey contest for best sprinter.
Van Aert shook up the pack as he shot forward on the last of the five climbs – a 900m climb to the Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez with a 7.5 percent gradient. He said he felt an early attack was the best way to avoid a bunch sprint on the line.
“I didn’t want to take the risk of losing anymore. It was pretty clear that we were trying to do something with the team,” he said. “I went full throttle to see what would happen. I went all out.”
Considered one of the best multi-skilled riders in the world, the 27-year-old van Aert is a former three-time cyclo-cross world champion and one-day classics specialist.
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The Jumbo-Visma rider flapped his hands like a bird’s wings as he sat up on his bicycle.
“This sweater gives wings. It was certainly a tough climb, but this stage would most likely end in a bunch sprint,” said Van Aert. “It was difficult to finish alone, but thanks to the work of my teammates I managed to do it. It was up to me to finish it.”
Van Aert took a time bonus of 10 seconds and is now 25 seconds ahead Yves Lampaert in the general classification and 32 seconds ahead of two-time defending champions Tadej Pogacar†
Pogacar .’s rival Primoz Roglicithe 2020 Tour runner-up and teammate of Van Aert, remained seventh in the overall standings and nine seconds behind Pogacar, with both finishing in the main pack.
After a day of travel, the riders took a sunny 106.3 mile route from the coastal town of Dunkirk to Calais, where the riders could see the English coastline as they arrived at the much-used port location. Van Aert completed it in 4 hours, 1 minute, 36 seconds.
danish rider Magnus Cortwho delighted the public with his breakaway rides during three intense days in Denmark, was again in the early breakaway – this time next to Anthony Perez†
Perez rode some 28 miles ahead and Cort was overtaken by the pack shortly after. Cort took more points in the polka dot jersey, but much tougher climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees are yet to come.
Wednesday’s fifth stage is a flat stage for sprinters of over 147 miles, starting at Lille Metropole and over some of the dreaded cobblestones featured on the one-day Paris-Roubaix classic.
The race ends on July 24 in Paris.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Wout van Aert wins 4th stage of the Tour de France; Jasper Philipsen thought he won originally appeared on NBCSports.com