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NotTheRealSteveWest

Tour de London

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Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd prevailed in a mass sprint to take victory in stage four of the Tour de France in Joigny.

 

The big Norwegian sat patiently on the wheel of lead-out man Julian Dean, before surging for the line with 200 metres to go and holding off a late charge from Barloworld's Robbie Hunter.

 

Rabobank's Oscar Freire finished third, followed by Erik Zabel and Danilo Napolitano.

 

Fabian Cancellara finished safely in the peloton and kept hold of his yellow jersey. Hushovd now leapfrogs Andreas Kloeden in the overall standings, moving to 29 seconds behing Cancellara.

 

The quintet of Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Christian Knees (Milram) broke away from the pack soon after the first climb of the day, the fourth-category Veuilly-la-Poterie.

 

Unfortunately for them, the peloton was not content to trundle along at the pedestrian pace that made Tuesday's stage the slowest in the Tour since 1947, and their advantage never climbed above the five-minute mark.

 

A fall in the peloton after 70 kilometres saw Caisse d'Epargne rider Xabier Zandio become the third man to abandon the Tour, while Remy di Gregorio (FdJ) received treatment from the medical car for minor injuries.

 

Led by the CSC and Quickstep teams, the peloton brought the gap back down to one minute with 20 kilometres to go, and finally swallowed up the five escapees seven kilometres from the finish line despite a brief attack from Knees.

 

The blue Quickstep train led the peloton into the long, straight finish to the stage, though when Gert Steegmans moved aside, Tom Boonen was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Dean moved to the fore, giving team-mate Hushovd the perfect platform to take his fifth stage win in the Tour.

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