Matt Goss sprinted to fourth on the flat finish of the fourth stage of the Tour de France. André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) powered to the win in Rouen ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano). The run in to the finish was marred by a massive pile-up that infused disorganization into an already hectic finale.
“To win stages of the Tour de France, we need to execute our plan 100 percent,” said Sports Director Matt White. “We didn’t execute 100 percent today, and we didn’t get the stage win. The only way to win stages at the Tour de France is to take the guesswork out of the final. It’s extremely difficult to win against the best guys in the world without a well-executed plan.”
A three man break enjoyed nearly the entire stage ahead of the bunch. Their gap yo-yo’ed between five and seven minutes for the bulk of the stage. With three riders up the road, 13 points towards the green jersey competition were up for grabs for fourth place in the intermediate sprint. Goss managed fifth, good for 11 points.
“Cav [Mark Cavendish of Sky Procycling] got over the top of Gossy in the sprint today,” noted White. “We didn’t put too much effort into it, and we picked up points on some of our competitors. All said, it didn’t go too bad.”
With the mid-stage sprint and the finale, Goss earned enough points to move from fourth to second in the points classification.
Double stage winner Peter Sagan (Liqugas-Cannondale) leads Goss 147 to 92. Greipel, with 87 points, and Cavendish, with 86 points, trail closely behind.
“Our focus hasn’t changed,” said White. “We’re still chasing the green jersey, and that means we need to get as many points as we can whenever we can. Sagan has a big lead, and as long as Gossy goes for the intermediate sprints, so will Sagan. So will Greipel. So will Cav. We can’t back off from the intermediate sprints if we want the green jersey.”
Brett Lancaster was the only ORICA-GreenEDGE rider to hit the tarmac today. Involved in the crash just before the sprint, Lancaster reported minimal injuries. Simon Gerrans, who tangled with a barbed wire fence during a crash on stage three, is dealing with some lingering impact.
“Simon’s a bit stiff today after his crash, but he’s not dealing with anything that’s going to stop him from getting back to the level that he was at before he crashed,” said White. “In a couple day’s time, he’ll be fine.”
Looking ahead, White is clear about the team’s objective for stage five. The flat stage takes the race east as it heads towards the mountains.
“We want a bunch sprint, and we need to execute our plan at the finish,” said White. “It’s the only way we can win.”