The Grand Départ in Dusseldorf saw Geraint Thomas don the yellow jersey for the first time in his career, 10 years after he first appeared at the Tour in London. Stefan Küng’s time was only 5 seconds slower, so he earned himself the white jersey, and the green ŠKODA sponsored jersey went to Vasil Kiryienka, who finished third in the time trial.
The green jersey quickly changed hands after Marcel Kittel sprinted to his first stage victory this year and tenth overall. He had 63 points at that moment, with Demare, his closest rival at the time, having only 38. The peloton suffered a big crash with Froome and Bardet being caught up in it as well, but all the GC favourites managed to finish, and Thomas retained the yellow jersey.
Peter Sagan took the third stage victory in the uphill finish in Longwy as the Tour returned to France again. The Slovak managed to outsprint Michael Matthews, who came second to him in the 2015 World Championships. Kittel managed to retain the green jersey, though, with Sagan only moving to third place in the green jersey classification.
Arnaud Démare stormed to victory in stage 4 with Peter Sagan close behind him. Two crashes in the last kilometre prevented a number of sprinters from contesting for the stage win, most notably the collision between Sagan and Cavendish. The crash caused a big controversy and the Slovak was later disqualified for his actions. Unfortunately, Cavendish broke his shoulder, which removed him from the race as well.
Fabio Aru soloed to victory at La Planche des belles filles, reminding us all of Vincenzo Nibali’s attack on the same route three years earlier. In the general classification, Froome and Thomas switched places. The three-time winner was back in the yellow while Démare managed to retain the green.
Marcel Kittel made it two in Troyes, with his team working perfectly to put him towards victory. The German outpowered the holder of the ŠKODA sponsored green jersey Arnaud Démare in the end and narrowed the gap between them to 27 points in the green jersey classification. With two big favourites being out of the race, Kittel could very well win overall, but he is being cautious.
“I said before that I’m only interested in stage wins. That’s where you score those big points which are very important for the green jersey classification, and in a few days or a week we will see what the classification looks like and if there is still a realistic chance or not. I won’t give up. I have it in my focus but I won’t be pushing it at all costs,” Kittel said after taking the 11th Tour de France stage of his career.