Another hectic spring for Astana at Tour de France Stage 4

Mitchelton-Scott with overall leader Daryl IMpey at Criterium du Dauphine stage 3 team time trial

Nobody is writing off Mark Cavendish yet - he takes far too much pleasure proving his doubters wrong - but he is struggling to harness the power in those famously fast legs.

"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.

"I'm here to get closer to that record", said the 33-year-old.

In stage four, Gaviria, riding for Quick-Step, launched his first attack far from the finish line, but secured the win with a second, powerful burst of speed to beat veterans Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Germany's expert sprinter Andre Greipel.

"It was a very hard sprint, but we knew how to pull it off", Gaviria said.

The Belgian, who took the overall lead on Monday, avoided a crash that split the peloton with 5km to go.

BMC edged out Team Sky for victory in the stage three team time trial at the Tour de France but Chris Froome was able to wipe out numerous losses suffered in Saturday's chaotic opener.

But there were no changes among the title hopefuls.

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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. Movistar teammates Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa were 15th and 16th (:53), narrowly ahead of Froome.

Behind them, the pack was led by Quick-Step Floors and BMC and the day was quite uneventful, even though there was a small crash at around 30 kilometres to go that affected riders like Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) but didn't leave any consequences.

Van Avermaet would normally be one of the favourites to clinch Wednesday's hilly run to Quimper, but will face a stiff challenge for the jersey.

His absence means Bardet's team is now down to seven riders with 17 more stages to be raced before the Tour's end on July 28.

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.

Froome, who was cleared of doping allegations last week by the International Cycling Union, has been jeered by some skeptical fans since arriving in France.

Froome is aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only riders to win the Tour five times.

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