Wout van Aert celebrates with his team
GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO v AFP
Belgian Wout van Aert has won stage four of the 109th Tour de France and extended his lead in the general classification.
On Tuesday's return to France, the 27-year-old single-handedly won ahead of his compatriot Jasper Philipsen and Frenchman Christophe Laporte after 171.5 kilometers from Dunkirk to Calais.
Van Aert, who broke away with a sharp attack on the last climb of the day, took his first victory of the 2022 Tour after three second places.
Eleven kilometers before the finish, his team Jumbo-Visma launched an attack on the nearly one-kilometer-long Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez.
The team with the favorites Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard drove the entire field apart, and defending champion Tadej Pogacar also had problems at first.
Van Aert was the first to go over the crest and raced towards the finish line alone.
Behind them, the field came together again after a short, confusing phase.
“I was fed up with bunch sprints.
I didn't want to take the risk anymore," joked van Aert.
His compatriot Jasper Philipsen won the sprint of the field in second place and initially thought he had won the stage.
Eventually he was spotted by third-placed Christophe Laporte.
The first day after the visit to Denmark initially went like the flat stages in Scandinavia.
Mountain jersey wearer Magnus Cort tore away - this time with Frenchman Anthony Perez - behind them the field bored until van Aert attacked.
Due to the points collected, Cort, who is celebrated in his Danish homeland, should only lose his mountain jersey on Friday's first mountain climb.
Now comes the cobblestones
The section on Wednesday from Lille to Arenberg promises to be significantly more exciting.
Eleven cobblestone sectors have to be mastered, the first comes after about 74 kilometers.
A total of 19.4 kilometers of bumpy dirt roads in northern France are on the program.
Compared to the previous cobblestone stage of the 2018 tour, the organizers chose longer sections.
All-rounder van Aert, who last year celebrated victories in the sprint, in the time trial and on the Mont Ventoux Tour, should also be one of the favorites on Wednesday at the "Roubaix stage", the "Maillot jaune" only on Friday at the first mountain finish seriously endangered on the Planche des Belles Filles.
Mathieu van der Poel, who has already won the Tour of Flanders twice, is the top favourite.
From a German point of view, Nils Politt could also have a chance.
The German champion is in top form and finished second at Paris-Roubaix in 2019.
However, the man from Cologne may have to protect his captain Alexander Vlasow and guide him safely across the pavement.