With a steep, short climb at the end of Stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France, the stage promised to be an exciting one with some of the tour's biggest names fighting for the win. The finish didn't disappoint at all, as all of the big general classification and stage racers fought it out to the end, with Cadel Evans edging out Alberto Contador by mere inches to win the stage, while Thor Hushovd put together an impressive ride to keep the race lead.
The breakaway was caught at four kilometers to go, at which point the real race started. The climb officially started at two kilometers from the finish, but the incline started right before the peloton caught the break. After the breakaway was absorbed into the pack, BMC rider George Hincape went to the front and started to set a blistering pace, causing some of the pack to be dropped. Right after the start of the true climb, after about three kilometers of pacemaking from Hincapie, Alberto Contador made his move.
Contador lost serious time to his competitors in Stage 1 and on the team time trial, so he was looking to cut into his deficit before the mountain stages begin. He made the first major attack of the climb, and a number of riders were able to match it, including Stage 1 winner Phillipe Gilbert, yellow jersey holder Thor Hushovd, and Cadel Evans. Those riders and a handful of others stayed together until the end, where Evans was the first to take off.
It appeared that Evans might have started his sprint a bit too early as Contador chased him down, but Evans just barely hung on by about a quarter of a bike length, winning the stage. However, with the elimination of time bonuses, Evans will not be in yellow on Tuesday night. Thor Hushovd, discounted by experts for the most part, hung with the elite climbers at the end of the day and finished in the same group as Evans and Contador, hanging on to the race lead for one more day.
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