Germany’s Marcel Kittel timed his sprint perfectly to claim the fourth stage of the Tour de France in Lille on Tuesday after defending champion Chris Froome suffered a fall.
The British rider crashed five kilometres into the 163.5-km ride from Le Touquet but recovered to finish among the peloton, sustaining a possible wrist injury and bruising his left hip.
Team Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler made the early break and lead for much of the second half of the race, but was finally caught by the peloton with 16 kilometres to go.
Norway’s Alexander Kristoff was first to launch his sprint, but it wasn’t to be for the 27-year-old as Kittel proved unstoppable in the final kilometres, eventually completing the course in a winning time of 3 hours, 36 minutes and 39 seconds.
Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali finished safely to retain the overall lead.Froome and Spain’s Alberto Contador are among the 20 riders who trail the 29-year-old by two seconds.