The Surprises and Breakaways of Stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France
It was a day of surprises and breakaways at Stage 4 of the Tour de France. The stage started with a breakaway of four riders, including defending champion Alberto Contador, who attacked early on the climb of the Col de la Madeleine. But the breakaway was caught and Contador was dropped on the descent. Then, on the final climb of the day, another breakaway of four riders went clear, including race leader Thor Hushovd. But Hushovd was dropped on the climb and couldn't hold on to the lead. So, the stage was won by a surprise breakaway of two riders, Jelle Vanendert and Maxime Monfort. And Monfort took the race lead from Hushovd. It was a day of surprises and breakaways, and it set up an intriguing battle for the overall lead.It was all supposed to be over. Alberto Contador had won the first three stages of the Tour de France and seemed destined to cruise to victory in the overall standings. But then came stage 4, and everything changed.
The stage started innocently enough, with a breakaway group of riders getting out to an early lead. But then, on the descent from the Col de Manse, disaster struck for Contador. He crashed, and while he was able to get back on his bike and finish the stage, he lost over two minutes to his rivals.
It was a stunning turn of events, and it completely changed the complexion of the race. Now, instead of being in the driver's seat, Contador found himself playing catch-up. He would ultimately go on to lose the Tour de France by just over a minute, proving that even the slightest mistake can be costly in the world's biggest bike race.It was a great day for cycling, with some amazing performances from some unlikely riders. The biggest surprise was undoubtedly Tony Martin, who rode away from the peloton to take an impressive stage win. Other riders to impress included Jakob Fuglsang, who rode away from the field to take second place, and Peter Sagan, who showed his class by winning the sprint for third.
It was a tough day for the GC contenders, with several of them losing time to the leaders. Cadel Evans was the biggest loser, dropping over two minutes to his rivals. This means that he now sits in fourth place overall, more than three minutes behind race leader Thomas Voeckler.
With only three stages remaining, it looks like the race is wide open. Voeckler still leads, but he will have to work hard to hold off the challenge of Evans, Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck. It should be a great final few days of racing.