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2011 Tour de France Stage 4: Evans holds off Contador for first outright Tour win

Ryder Hesjedal keeps rising, now 34th

Today’s Tour de France stage was a flat route with a sting in the tail, the fearsome Cat. 3 Wall of Brittany. As the peloton disintegrated, Cadel Evans held off a frisky Alberto Contador to take his first ever Tour win, not counting the time trial that was handed to him when Alexandre Vinokourov was disqualified for doping. Thor Hushovd proved his mettle by finishing on the same time as Evans to retain yellow.

The weather was foul, with rain, wind and fog, but that didn’t prevent a few breakaway attempts. Finally, one stuck with Gorka Izagirre (Euskatel), Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Blel Kadri (AG2R) and the effervescent Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).

Hoogerland crested the Cat. 4 Cote de Laz first and also took the day’s intermediate sprint in Spezet. When the rest of the peloton arrived at Spezet, the sprinters looked to soak up the remaining points. Yesterday’s Independence Day winner, American Tyler Farrar, was first to the line. Mark Cavendish sat up when he realized he hadn’t the legs to win out of the peloton.

The pace ramped up, driven by Evans’ BMC team and the squad of Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto. Even Leopard had a dig before the breakaway was caught. On the Mur de Bretagne, a sticky two kilometre hill, there were a few attacks, including one from Contador that looked painful for the Spaniard. Evans surged ahead and beat Contador to the line by a few inches. Cadel sits second by one tick of the watch and pulled on the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey.

Ryder Hesjedal finished 19th in the large group eight second behind and climbed into 34th place, 1:22 off of Thor Hushovd.