Tony Martin solos to Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 victory & into the yellow jersey

Cover: Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 – Section 7 cobbles
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


After seven sections of cobbles and 223.5 km, Tony Martin (Etixx – QuickStep) soloed to victory in Cambrai at stage 4 of the Tour de France, picking up both the win and the yellow jersey in the process. John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Alpecin) was second and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was third, both 3 seconds back.

Chris Froome (Team Sky), who started the day in the yellow jersey, now sits 12 seconds behind Martin in the overall and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) is in third in the GC, 25 seconds behind Martin.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 – Cobblestones sector 6
Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 – Cobblestones sector 6 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4: Seraing to Cambria

A Tour already filled with high drama from stages 2 and 3, the peloton finally reached France on the way to the finish of Stage 4. Coming off the thrilling splits in the foul weather in The Netherlands on stage 2, the stage 3 crash that would ultimately claim the yellow jersey and of course the classics like the finish on the famed Mur de Huy, one would think the riders would be looking for a little respite from the drama.

Contraire! Bring on the stage 4 cobbles. The stage from Seraing to Cambria has been dubbed by the Tour as a mini Roubaix. With seven sections of cobbles comprising 13.3km of racing. For some, mixed emotions were certainly the order of their morning preparations. The threat of rain adding to the anxiety.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) GBR would start the day in yellow with a slim one second lead over Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick Step) GER. Martin, coming off two days of one second near misses for claiming his first career yellow jersey, you can rest assured was hyper-motivated. Others within striking distance included Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) BEL and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) SVK to name a few. It was Froomey’s 15th Tour yellow jersey, a new record for British riders.

The break of the day would once again go straight away. Initiated by Lieuwe Westra (Astana) NED and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) BEL, Astana was keen to take the pressure off of Vincenzo Nibali and the rest of the team. Westra’s break would place the onus of managing the chase squarely on the shoulders of the teams of the other GC contenders and the sprinters vying for a stage win.

Westra and De Gendt would be joined by Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar) FRA, his second consecutive day in the break, and Frédéric Brun (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) FRA.

Thomas De Gendt would take the one mountain classification point available today leading the break over the cat 4 Côte de la Citadelle de Namur. The break had an 8:25 advantage.

The break would tumble on the run in to secteur 7 and they would hit this first taste of pave´with their advantage down to just over a minute. Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step)GBR took the responsibility of leading the peloton and Tony Martin across this 1.8km length of relatively placid cobblestones. Reports from the ground began to tell of raindrops starting to fall.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4, sector 7
Tour de France 2015 Stage 4, sector 7 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Tour, always a platform for new technology and competitive innovation, several riders stopped and changed bikes to one more suitable to cobbles. This along with a peloton wide natural break would see the gap to the break start to stretch again. The break would re-establish itself to a maximum gap of 3:23.

The intermediate sprint at Havay, 137km into the stage was won by Thomas De Gendt out of the break. The peloton would battle for the remaining points for places five through fifteen. Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) GBR would grab the fifth place points then came Bryan Coquard (Europcar) FRA, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) GER, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) SVK and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) GER. And just like that, the race crossed the border into France for good.

To no one’s surprise, the pace would lift as the peloton approached the final 40km and the six remaining sectors of pave´. Luca Paolini(Katyusha) ITA could be seen moving to the front, taking on the lead role for Alexander Kristoff as he has done so well all spring long. The rain began to fall and the wet roads immediately took their toll. Dan Martin and Alex Dowsett would go down in separate incidents.

Splits would start to form on sector six and the break would be caught with 40km to go as they hit sector 5. Astana came to the front to play their cards for Vincenzo Nibali. A select group of about 50 would form with all of the GC contenders present and animating the action. The race would ebb and flow back together.

A selection of 40 or so riders would finally form through sector 3 and sectuer 2. The main tour contenders all fighting for position but present and accounted for.

Pressure from Nibali would decant the group to 10 or 12 on the final section of cobbles. Alberto Contador(Tinkoff-Saxo) ESP would miss the split but Peter Sagan would pull the chase group back with 8km to go. A group of about 35 riders would come together to contest the finish. Degenkolb was looking to be in the best position with 6km to go.

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-4-sector-6
Tour de France 2015 Stage 4, sector 6 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tony Martin would take matters into his own hands and launch a solo attack with 3.5km to go. He would go on to solo to the finish for the stage win and finally his first yellow jersey. John Degenkolb(Giant-Alpecin) GER, Peter Sagan(Tinkoff-Saxo) SVK, Greg Van Avermaet(BMC) BEL and Edvald Boasson Hagen(MTN – Qhubeka) NOR would round out the top five.

I wasn’t really thinking about anyone following me when I attacked. Maybe everyone saw when I had a flat tyre in the last cobbled section. I had to change to Matteo’s bike. Maybe they thought I was more on the limit than what I actually was when I launched in that moment. It’s also possible no one expected such an early attack. I think inside 4 kilometers to go everyone was on their hands and knees. It was just the right moment for me to try my chance. I found some extra power. I got a good gap.

I knew this finale really well. I was here before for training for two days. I did 180 kilometers of the stage, I knew every little detail.  I knew if I could make it to the last kilometer, which was a little more technical with the cobbles and the hard left hand turn, I would have a chance. My goal was the last corner, and somehow I made it. I’m thrilled about my solo victory and my race leadership. It really surprised me that I could make it, because I was really tired after chasing back after the flat. The last three days I missed the yellow by just a few seconds. My goal was to get it on the first day and I was sad I missed it. I came closer, but I never had it. Yesterday was super hard. I knew the chance was there, but it was obviously not my kind of stage.

So, the pressure was getting bigger and bigger. Today I was really motivated. Today’s stage suited me much better so I can play with my power.  I am more of a classics style rider than a climber. For today’s stage I had all the support from the team and I really wanted to get the yellow for me and especially for the team. Crossing the line in first, knowing I won the stage but also that I got yellow, makes me super happy that I can give everything back to the team that they gave me in the last days. I am also proud to wear this yellow jersey for Germany. I was proud to wear my German TT Champion jersey in the opening time trial, and now I can show the German fans something else special with my GC lead.

This moment has been wonderful and I really hope this brings more people into being fans of cycling, including those of the German public. The goal is now to keep the yellow jersey as many days as we can going into the rest day. There are a few hard finals, but I believe I can stay in front with the support of my team. We also have the team time trial coming up. I think we have a fighting chance of holding on to this jersey until the first rest day. Of course, I think we also have chances to fight for good stage results in the next days. As you could see from my support today we have nine strong guys at this race. We will do our best to defend this jersey and go for more good results.”
Tony Martin, Etixx – QuickStep

The peloton will look forward to what should be a more relaxed few stages heading into the TTT this weekend.


Stage 4
Date: 7 July, 2015
Start:  Seraing
Finish: Cambrai
Distance: 223.5 km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 – Cobblestones sector 6
Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 – Cobblestones sector 6 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 Top 10

  1. Tony Martin (GER) #114
    ETIXX-QUICK STEP 05h 28′ 58”
  2. John Degenkolb (GER) #81
    TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  3. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAXO 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) #68
    BMC RACING TEAM 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) #211
    MTN-QHUBEKA 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  6. Nacer Bounanni (FRA) #171
    COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  7. Jacopo Guarnier (ITA) #93
    TEAM KATUSHA 05h 29′ 01” +:03
  8. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  9. Zdenek Stybar (CZE) #116
    ETIXX-QUICK STEP 05h 29′ 01” + :03
  10. Bryan Coquaard (FRA) #122
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 29′ 01” + :03

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 4

  1. Tony Martin (GER) #114
    ETIXX-QUICK STEP 12h 40′ 26”
  2. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 12h 40′ 38” + :12
  3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 12h 40′ 51” + :25
  4. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 12h 41′ 04” + :38
  5. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAXO 12h 41′ 05” + :39
  6. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) #68
    BMC RACING TEAM 12h 41′ 06” + :40
  7. Rigoberto Uran (COL) #118
    ETIXX-QUICK STEP 12h 41′ 12” + :46
  8. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 12h 41′ 14” + :48
  9. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 12h 41′ 41” + 1:15
  10. Zdenek Stybar (CZE) #116
    ETIXX-QUICK STEP 12h 41′ 42” + 1:16

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 4

Yellow (Overall leader): Tony Marin, Etixx – QuickStep
Green (Points): André Greipel, Lotto Soudal
Polka-dot (KOM): Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo


Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 profile

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Cobblestone sectors

Seven sectors of cobbles totaling 13.3 km await the riders in stage 4.

The first is sector 7, an 1800m stretch from Pont-à-Celles to Gouy-Lez-Piéton, reached 103.5 km into the race. Sectors 1-6 all fall in the last 46 km as follows:
Sector 6: Atres to Famars, 1200m
Sector 5: Quérénaing to Verchain – Maugré, 1600m
Sector 4: Verchain – Maugré to Saulzoir, 1200m
Sector 3: Saint-Python, 1500m
Sector 2: Fontaine-au-Tertre to Quiévy, 3700m
Sector 1: Avesnes-les-Aubert to Carnières, 2300m

Tour de France 2015 Stage 4 last km

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Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.