Gaviria wins again, Van Avermaet holds Tour de France lead

The route around Cholet of the 2018 Tour de France stage 3 team time trial

Tour de France 2018: Fernando Gaviria secures second win in thrilling stage-four finish

A crash took out a great deal of the field on Sunday's second sprint finishes but already we know that Quick-Step's Fernando Gaviria and Bora's Peter Sagan are in top form. "Everyone is working well together and we have a strong team and Richie can be up there". And maybe we will see the next days on the climbs.

"Tuesday's stage might be tricky, you have to watch out for winds and the narrow roads and not get trapped behind a fall", he said, perhaps thinking of the scenario on Sunday when the sprint was marked by a multiple pile-up. Last year's runner-up Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) and Katusha leader Ilnur Zakarin were slowed down by the accident. Then with 5km to go a big crash midway down the peloton threw another spanner in the works.

What had once been viewed as an opportunity to make time had become a chance to gain it back after Froome lost 51 seconds to his main rivals on Saturday. The 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali was 19th (1:06), Romain Bardet 20th (1:15) and Nairo Quintana was 48th (2:08).

The crash briefly gave hope to the day's four-man breakaway that they might be able to stay out and contest the win, but the sprinters were not to be denied and the quartet was swept up with just 1 kilometre left.

Fans cheered and waved the black-and-white striped Breton flag on the roadside as the peloton rolled through the country villages.

As such, this was the third instalment in the sprint battles that dominated the weekend before the team time-trial, as the sprinters' teams fought the nervy GC contenders for position at the head of affairs seeking to avoid the kind of dramas that blighted the opening weekend.

Wednesday's fifth stage is a 204.5km lumpy ride from Lorient to Quimper that should favour one-day classics specialists such as Van Avermaet.

The intermediate sprint in Derval brought the sprinters to the fore in a dress rehearsal for the finale with limited green jersey points on offer after the breakaway swept up the majority of the spoils.

"It depends on who wants to defend and who wants to go for it".

"It's not an easy stage by any means but, I think stage six will be more of a test for me". "(Depending) on how it goes there will be differences between the riders".

During Tuesday's stage, several syringes were seen alongside the course route in apparent protest by anti-Froome spectators.

The Manxman is aiming to break Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins but remains four off that mark.

The three-week Tour ends July 29 in Paris.

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