Tour de France stage 4: Kittel bags a triple

Germany's Marcel Kittel sprinted home to win stage four of the Tour de France on Tuesday and in doing so the giant German picked up his third stage win of the 2014 so far. Chris Froome had crashed earlier in the race.

Tour de France stage 4: Kittel bags a triple
The sprint king Marcel Kittel won his third stage of the 2014 Tour de France on Tuesday. There's only been four so far. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Sprint king Marcel Kittel won his third Tour de France stage out of four on Tuesday after claiming the fourth stage from Le Touquet to Lille.

The burly German continued his domination of the sprints although he was run far closer than previously by Norwegian Alexander Kristoff in second and Frenchman Arnaud Demare in third.

Having won four stages on last year's Tour, the imperious Kittel is only one more victory away from matching that within the Grand Boucle's first week.

And he did so this time despite his Giant-Shimano team failing to control the run-in the way they had for his victories on Saturday and Monday.

But without 25-time Tour stage winner Mark Cavendish, who left the race on Sunday morning with a separated shoulder, Kittel has been in a class of his own.

On what was mostly a calm day, there was a scare for reigning Tour champion Chris Froome who crashed inside the first 5km on his left side.

He suffered grazes down his left side to his thigh and elbow while he also hurt his wrist.

He was given a splint for his left wrist while his left thigh and right hand also sported strapping following a trip back to the medical car.

Race doctor Florence Pommerie told France Televisions that the champion's wounds were superficial.

"They're essentially a few scratches, but that's got to hurt nevertheless. He also hurt his wrist, but we'll have to wait and see how it goes," he said.

Froome's left thigh was strapped up and he was given a bandage for his right hand, while he was later seen flexing his left hand as well.

The crash took down several other riders, including Dutch outsider for the overall victory Bauke Mollema of Belkin.

More to follow

Here's a video preview of stage four.

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Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

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Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.