Marcel Kittel sprinted to victory on stage four of the Tour de France to claim his third win in the first four stages.

Kittel won stage one and stage three during the Tour's spell in England and continued his good form when day four ended in Lille.

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The German sprinter didn't have it easy though and only beat second-placed Alexander Kristoff by half a wheel in an exhilarating finish back on French soil.

Four in the mix

Arnaud Demare finished third with Peter Sagan crossing the line in fourth. All four riders were within a bikes length of each other.

Kittel admitted that it was a very close finish today showing he is not the only sprinter who can win stages at the Tour.

He said: “It was really exhausting. I was thinking about was the last corner at 250m. I was almost tempted to go at 500m, but I had to sit down again. 

“I went really long with everything I had. It was really difficult. Today we saw that we are not unbeatable and we always need a plan and need to concentrate on our preparation for the sprint. It was close today.”

Taking advantage

With the absence of Mark Cavendish after his crash during the opening stage of Saturday, Kittel will be the favourite for most sprint finishes as he seems to have the most explosive speed out of all the other riders. Sagan will be his biggest competitor but he may be more interested in winning the green jersey rather than individual stages.

2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome crashed at the start of the stage after colliding with another riders wheel but he managed to get back on his bike and finish safely within the peloton.

Froome cut his left shoulder, knee and hip and will have an X-ray on his wrist tonight after falling awkwardly on it, but he should be fit to continue in the race.

Yellow jersey

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali remains in the yellow jersey after finishing in the peloton and Froome is still two seconds adrift of his lead.

Stage four result

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 3:36:39
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, same time
3 Arnaud Demare (Ger) FDJ, st
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
6 Andre Greipel (Ger) otto Belisol, st
7 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st
8 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
10 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC, st

General classification

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 17:07:52
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, +2secs
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge, st
4 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, st
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
7 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
8 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, st
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, st
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st

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