Green jersey wearer Marcel Kittel couldn't contest the sprint after being caught up behind a pile-up in the last kilometer.
Marcel Kittel was one of the red-hot favourites for the win in stage 4 of the Tour de France (Mondorf-les-Bains – Vittel, 207.5 kilometers), but he was taken out of contention by a high-speed incident occurred in the final meters of the stage. As the sprint trains moved to the front of the bunch in Vittel, a moment of inattention caused a big crash, among the riders involved being also three Quick-Step Floors men – Jack Bauer, Fabio Sabatini and Matteo Trentin – who hit the ground near the barriers, leaving the German stranded as the peloton got pulverized into several groups.
Victorious on stage 2, Marcel chased for a few seconds hoping to make contact with the handful of riders left at the front, but it was impossible for him to return in the mix, and eventually had to settle for 13th, arriving a few seconds behind winner Arnaud Demare (FDJ), but avoiding a second crash which took out Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates).
If Bauer came out of that first crash unscathed, the same thing can't be said of Sabatini and Trentin; Kittel's lead-out man picked up some abrasions on both his left and right side, while the multiple Grand Tour stage winner has wounds on both hands and a bruised right hip. On the plus side, both Italians can continue the race, which on Wednesday afternoon schedules the first summit finish of this edition.
"Today we were well-placed and ready to do our sprint, but then that crash happened and I had to break. There was no way I was coming back after such an incident on that slight uphill. The result we wanted to get today wasn't there at the end of the stage, but I'm sure there will be other opportunities and we are confident", said Marcel Kittel, who shrugged off the disappointment of conceding the green jersey and missing out on the chance to fight for another win at the Tour de France.
Photo credit: © Tim De Waele