Martin couldn't be caught as he zoomed through the streets of Cambrai. Look how happy he is crossing the finish line (click on the image for a larger view).
Because of all the cobblestone sections, and because today's stage is the longest of this year's Tour de France, modeling is challenging. Riders seemed a bit slow, timid, and, at times, nervous through the first half of the stage. I kept waiting for the speeds to pick up, but they never did. We were clearly thinking the pace would be faster before the cobblestones were reached. Below is how our prediction fared.
- Stage 4: 5h 28' 58" (actual), 5h 04' 45" (prediction), 24' 13" fast (-7.36% error)
Tony Martin's average speed is below.
- Stage 4: 11.32 m/s (40.76 kph or 25.33 mph)
We thought the first half of the race was going to be at a faster pace, but the riders held back a little and gave us a wonderfully exciting finish.
There were many great scenes to behold in the stage. Below is Rigoberto Urán tucking a banana behind him with about 97 km (60 mi) left (click on the image for a larger view).
I love how skilled those guys are at eating and drinking while flying on a bicycle. When the peloton entered Goegnies-Chaussée, moving the Tour de France from Belgium to France, I grabbed the screen capture below (click on the image for a larger view).
Of course the cobblestones were the main attraction on the route today. Below is a screen capture from the first section in France, a bit more than 45 km (28 mi) from the finish (click on the image for a larger view).
Lots of dust on those cobblestone roads! Rain also hit riders a few times, slowing the pace a little and probably responsible for a couple of crashes.
Another flat stage is on tap for tomorrow. Commencing in Arras, the 189.5-km (117.7-mi) stage takes riders southwest, to Amiens. Our prediction is below.
- Stage 5: 4h 19' 08" (prediction)
Fast winds pervaded early stages in northern France last year. Let's hope the weather is superb and racing is fast tomorrow!