Tour de France04/07/2012 - 18:07 - Updated 04/07/2012 - 19:29
Arashiro's turn to shine
An attack from the outset with Frenchmen Anthony Delaplace and David Moncoutie saw Japan's Yukiya Arashiro named the most aggressive rider of stage four in the Tour. The leading trio were caught inside the final 10km and despite a nervous finish, both Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler avoided any p
For the fourth day in succession a rider from Team Europcar rode off the front of the peloton in the Tour de France on Wednesday. After Yohann Gene, Christophe Kern and Giovanni Bernaudeau, it was the turn of Yukiya Arashiro to steal the limelight on the front of the race during a long 214.5km from Abbeville to Rouen.
"At the morning meeting we decided that Yukiya and Vincent Jerome were the two riders earmarked to try to make a break," said directeur sportif Dominique Arnould after the stage, which was won by Germany's Andre Greipel.
Arashiro kept to the plan and launched an early attack right after the official start of the stage, taking with him French pair Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun) and David Moncoutie (Codifis). The leading trio built up a maximum lead of eight minutes with Arashiro taking both the intermediate sprint and the prize for being the most aggressive rider of the day.
"Once the lead came down to three minutes it became much harder," said Arnould. "On paper, it seemed possible to try something on this stage but it would have been better if the group was a bit larger and included some more courageous riders."
In the end, the escapees gave it their all but were swept up just inside the final 10km of a long stage on the coast of Normandy, which was broken up by four minor category climbs and one large downpour of rain.
For the other Team Europcar riders, the largely flat and sunny stage was a chance to recuperate and take it easy ahead of larger challenges ahead – especially in the case of road captain Thomas Voeckler, who has been riding with a sore knee.
"For Thomas, the news is not worse than yesterday. He obviously suffered a bit towards the end when the pace increased but he managed to hold on. While waiting for things to improve, he is just going to dig deep and take things day by day," said manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau.
Luckily for Voeckler, GC hope Pierre Rolland and the entire team, no one was affected in the large pile-up that occurred inside the final 3km and ended the chances of world champion Mark Cavendish of Team Sky.
Lotto Belisol's Greipel took the bunch sprint ahead of Italian veteran Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) while Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara of RadioShack-Nissan retained the leader's yellow jersey.