The Tour de France is about to get fun. On Stage 5 it enters the Massif Central, and from there stays pretty hilly until Paris. The Tour needs to get there, however, and to do that it needs to cover 237.5 flat from Saumur to Limoges.
Stage 4 is the longest of the Tour, and it should be one of the least decisive with just one King of the Mountains point available, thus ensuring that Jasper Stuyven will still be polka dotted come Wednesday. As on Stage 3, it'll be a good thing if all of the excitement is contained to the final kilometer. Mark Cavendish eked his bike past Andre Greipel's on Monday to win a second stage on this year's Tour, and unlike the first two stages Stage 3 had no major accidents on the road.
Peter Sagan remains in the yellow jersey after finishing fourth on Stage 3 and earning the same time as everyone else involved in the bunch sprint. He is overwhelmingly likely to keep the jersey Tuesday on a stage well suited to his sensibilities. The stage climbs slightly for about 70 kilometers before going downhill for the final 27. The finish line is on a sudden incline that could rule out the pure sprinters for the stage win.
And that's it. It should be a nice, lazy stage to work off your Fourth of July hangover. I've been to Limoges. It is a very nice town. I once met a pop singer a long time ago there and wrote about her. You can read that if you need something to distract you from dreaming about the mountains to come. Just one more day.
Tour de France coverage for Stage 4 on Tuesday
Start time: 6:30 a.m. ET (approx.)
Route: 237.5 kilometers from Saumur to Limoges
TV: NBCSN, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET
Streaming: NBC Sports Gold (subscription required)