Ewan takes third in Tour stage four dash

Bahrain-Merida on the start ramp ahead of their stage effort

The 27-year-old Frenchman, who won two stages in the 2018 campaign as well as the polka dot jersey for best climber, made a late solo break to take the yellow jersey from Dutch rider Mike Teunissen over the 215-kilometer (133-mile) trek from Binche, Belgium, to Epernay, France.

Viviani edged out Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan in the first pure sprint of this year's Tour, giving the Italian the Tour victory he craved to go with his five career Giro d'Italia stages and three in La Vuelta.

Italy's Elia Viviani celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the end of the fourth stage of the 106th edition of the Tour de France in Nancy, France, on July 9, 2019. "I just really focused on my lead out, because I lost the wheel of my lead out in the first stage and I was really disappointed after that", Viviani explained.

Slovak Peter Sagan retained the lead in the points standings even though he faded to fourth in a photo finish with rookie Australian Ewan. Today we did a ideal job, you saw how the lead-out did.

Alaphilippe was cheered throughout the stage.

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 team-mate and British defending champion Geraint Thomas.

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"On the descent with 10km to go I didn't dare look at my Garmin (speedometer). It's been ideal", Thomas said.

The Team Ineos rider is 45 seconds adrift.

"My father and mother were on the finish line today, they were set to leave yesterday but finally made a decision to stay because the stage was for sprinters", Viviani said. And the bunch finish meant there was no change at the top of the general classification, in which Alaphilippe leads by 20 seconds from Jumbo-Visma's Wout Van Aert.

A nervy Richie Porte was seen shouting at a TV motorbike that had strayed too close on Tuesday.

A trio adventured out on a long-range breakaway early in the stage with Michael Schar being awarded the combativity award after he, Frederik Backaert and Yoann Offredo held on until the Nancy city limits.

It was sweet reward for the 30-year-old, who had been frustrated to leave the Giro empty-handed in May, and found the finishing incline of Saturday's opening stage of the Tour in Brussels too hard.

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