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Elia Viviani sprints to victory on stage four of Tour de France

11 July 2019

Alaphilippe enjoyed a day free of pressure, well protected in the main pack by teammates, and then played a role in the final sprint to launch Viviani's final effort.

The 27-year-old Frenchman, who won two stages in the 2018 campaign as well as the polka dot jersey for best climber, made a late solo break to take the yellow jersey from Dutch rider Mike Teunissen over the 215-kilometer (133-mile) trek from Binche, Belgium, to Epernay, France.

Several sprinters had targeted Saturday's opening stage in Brussels but an uphill drag to the finish line proved too much for the pure quickmen.

Viviani has now posted stage wins at all three Grand Tours, including four at the Giro and three at the Spanish Vuelta. "I can't believe it".

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"It was truly the big goal of this season". We missed the first chance and put the yellow on. Today we did a flawless job, you saw how the lead-out did.

Speaking to reporters after the win, Alaphilippe was an emotional figure, "I'm speechless". I am pretty happy, I just missed this win, I had won in the Giro and in the Vuelta and now in the Tour de France.

Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Viviani superbly negotiated the dash to the line to hold off Norwegian Alexander Kristoff and Lotto-Soudal's Ewan, while former world champion Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe came fourth. Sunweb's Michael Matthews, ninth on the stage, is fifth in the general classification, while defending champion Geraint Thomas of Team Ineos is seventh, 45sec behind Alaphilippe and five seconds behind his Ineos teammate Egan Bernal, who lies sixth.

The significance of that margin was a strong topic of debate on Tuesday.

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"I only had to finish it off in the last 180 metres".

'People are trying to make out that it is a five-second gap and it is not. 'I didn't really do more than had to be done.

"I think in this year he's here to do exactly what he's doing and he's doing it absolutely brilliantly, and I can only stand back and applaud what he did yesterday", said Team Ineos principal Dave Brailsford, the man behind the British outfit's six Tour titles in the last seven years.

"I just need to thank the team, they were really unbelievable", Viviani said. G sat up a little bit, he thought people were trying to come over him and that is it.

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"It wasn't a five-second gap, though, was it?" he insisted.

Elia Viviani sprints to victory on stage four of Tour de France