TDF 2023: Stage 4: Sprint Win on Tricky Track Finale

July 4, 2023

Stage 4: Dax to Nogaro – 182 km

Philipsen edged out Caleb Ewan by half a wheel length at the finish.

Jasper Philipsen took the win at the fourth stage where the final kilometers held on a tricky motor circuit broke up the team efforts, and each man had to fight for himself. Caleb Ewan was inched out by Philipsen by less than a wheel length, and Astana’s Mark Cavendish who could not find a spot into the sprint, came in fifth.

Along with a narrowing field, the last kilometer of the race shredded the line-up and created a new dynamic. The Nogaro track was named in honor of Nogaro-born racing driver Paul Armagnac who died in an accident during practice for the 1962 1000-km de Paris at the Montlhéry circuit. The turns made meat out of several riders who crashed in the last kilometer.


The motor car circuit at Nogaro, France.

Six miles from the finish, Jasper Philipsen’s team Alpecin was out front controlling the peloton, but most of his teammates dropped away when they entered the tricky turns. Mark Cavendish’s Astana team was also lined up near the front.  Fabio Jacobsen fell about 1.4 km from the finish.

Before the start, Mark Cavendish who has won 34 Tour stages, expressed the desire to make this stage as number 35.  Called the “fastest man in the world” with a speed docked at 45 miles per hour, Cavendish had played it safe through the bulk of the stage by staying in the umbrage of the peloton. At the start, his wins put him on the first spot on the all-time list together with Eddy Merckx. With 54 Grand Tour stage victories he is third on the all-time list, and his 162 professional victories – as of 3 July 2023 – ranked him joint second of all time. But it was not to be.

The deets

The flat stage opened with riders relaxed and yapping while riding at a slow pace by

Stage 4 only had one intermediate sprint, and a mostly flat terrain.

Tour de France standards. More than halfway through the stage, with an average speed of 38 km per hour, the stage was ranked slowest since 2016 according to Pro Cycling Stats.

The stage was set for a rematch between the sprinters, but the predictions of Tour director Christian Prudhomme proved to be prescient when he said the hilly terrain of the Gers could also suit a small breakaway group. “The finish on the Nogaro motor-racing circuit will provide the stage winner with a success with a rare flavor. The peloton’s speedsters will certainly want to go head-to-head on the final 800-metre straight.”

The first breakaway formed with 86 km to go. Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroen)

04/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 4 – Dax / Nogaro (181,8 km) – DELAPLACE Anthony (TEAM ARKEA – SAMSIC),

jumped from the peloton, soon joined by Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic). The sprinters’ teams played it safe and stopped the two escapees from extending their lead beyond a minute or so.

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) was guaranteed to keep the polka-dot jersey after stage 4. The American held an 11-point lead at the start and there was only one point coming on the Côte de Dému (a 2 km category 4 climb at a gradient of 3.5%), 154.4 km into the course. Tomorrow is an entirely different story, with up to 32 points on the line in stage 5.

The intermediate sprint took place near a major cycling memorial: Notre-Dame Des

04/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 4 – Dax / Nogaro (181,8 km) –

Cyclistes, whose stained glass windows were designed by Henri Anglade. Results at 93.5 km were:

1. Philipsen, 20 pts
2. Coquard, 17 pts
3. Ewan, 15 pts
4. Pedersen, 13 pts
5. Meeus, 11 pts
6. Cavendish, 10 pts
7. Jakobsen, 9 pts
8. Sagan, 8 pts
9. Kristoff, 7 pts
10. Girmay, 6 pts
11. Strong, 5 pts
12. Kwiatkowski, 4 pts
13. Bol, 3 pts
14. Van der Poel, 2 pts
15. Abrahamsen, 1 pt

According to Wikipedia, on 22 August 1958, Father Joseph Massie, pastor of Créon-d’Armagnac, Mauvezin-d’Armagnac and Lagrange, was inspired by the chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo in Italy to make a similar chapel for cyclists. On 18 May 1959, Pope John XXIII agreed to make the old chapel a National Sanctuary of Cycling and Cyclists under the protection of the Virgin: Our Lady of cyclists (Notre-Dame des cyclistes). This is worthy of a visit for your next trip to France. 

The Tour has now passed the chapel six times: in 1984, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2017 and 2023.

With 57 km to go, the duo break was still ahead of the peloton by 54 seconds.

The course of the stage was held in the south west of France, from Dax to Nogaro.

The last time a mass-start stage of the Tour went by without a breakaway was 2 September 2020. Wout van Aert claimed stage 5 of that edition in Privas, while the yellow jersey ended up for the first time on the shoulders of none other than Adam Yates, the current leader of the Tour de France.

It should also be noted that only once in Tour history did an American rider win on the 4th of July – Tyler Farrar, in 2011. His celebration was a tribute to his late teammate Wouter Weylandt, who passed away two months earlier after an in-race crash. 

There are six Americans in this 110th Tour de France: Neilson Powless, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo–Visma), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Kevin Vermaeke (DSM–Firmenich), Lawson Craddock (Jayco AlUla) and the national champion, Quinn Simmons (Lidl–Trek).

With 50 km to go, Jayco AlUla (Groenewegen), Soudal-Quick Step (Jakobsen) and

04/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 4 – Dax / Nogaro (181,8 km) –

Alpecin-Deceuninck (Philipsen) were trading turns at the front of the peloton to keep the breakaway about a minute ahead of the bunch–though the difference had dwindled to 50 seconds.

Cosnefroy and Delaplace were giving it their all, but the gap was disintegrating to 36″ with 45 km to go, and 20 km later they were caught by the peloton.

With 23 km to go, the peloton had kicked up the speed to 45 km/h, up from an average speed of 37.5 km/h in the first 95 kilometers, narrowing the gap to the lead to 36 seconds and counting down.

Tomorrow the Tour enters the climbing stages in the Pyrenees, where the slow pace of today will be forgiven and forgotten.

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