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Men's Cycling Elia Viviani steals stage four by a photo-finish

ELIA VIVIANI won stage four of the Tour de France in a sprint finish in Nancy as Deceuninck-Quick Step teammate Julian Alaphilippe retained the yellow jersey.

Italian Viviani triumphed in the first pure sprint opportunity of the Tour after the uphill effort in Brussels on the opening day.

The bunch finish meant there was no change at the top of the general classification, which Alaphilippe leads by 20 seconds from Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert.

Viviani edged out UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff and Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan at the line, with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan in fourth.

The 213.5km stage from Reims was raced at relatively sedate pace after the exertions of Monday’s stage finale on the lumps and bumps of Champagne country, where Egan Bernal opened up a five-second gap on Ineos teammate and defending champion Geraint Thomas.

The significance of that margin was a strong topic of debate yesterday.

Thomas played it down but did admit: “If I am off the podium by four [seconds] I might be more disappointed.”

Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford dismissed the gap as irrelevant.

“I think way too much has been made of it, if I am honest,” he said.

“If anyone understands the sport, you watch the sport, there is a 30-metre gap. G sat up a little bit, he thought people were trying to come over him and that is it.

“People are trying to make out that it is a five-second gap and it is not. It makes no difference.”

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