Tour de France: Elia Viviani edges Kristoff in stage four bunch sprint

Julian Alaphilippe earned his 11th victory of the year

While French rider Julian Alaphilippe enjoyed a sparkling stage win and his first yellow jersey after a breathless attack through the Champagne vineyards, Thomas slipped behind Bernal in the frenzied finale.

The 213.5-kilometre flat route from Reims to Nancy did not pose any major difficulty and was a ideal opportunity for sprinters to get a stage win, a day after Viviani's teammate Julian Alaphilippe seized the yellow jersey with a solo effort.

"I just need to thank the team, they were really unbelievable", Viviani said. "This was my big goal for the race and we missed the first chance to win and put the Yellow on but I think after yesterday, after Julian did a phenomenal ride, it was the moment of the switch on of the team and today we did a flawless job".

A FRENCHMAN won the stage and took the yellow jersey as the Tour de France finally reached home roads.

"I had missed my lead-out in the first stage, it was my fault and I was very disappointed. I wasn't aggressive enough, and it was a hard finish, and that was all-important me for this win", Viviani said.

In front of the Reims cathedral with 69km to go, the deficit of the peloton was below two minutes with Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck-Quick Step still at the front.

"I heard people say my name every 10 seconds, it's a day I will never forget", world number one Alaphilippe, who a year ago won the mountains classification and claimed two stage wins, told reporters.

The difference on the day was made by Viviani, who had the speed and strength to hold off the hard-charging Kristoff and Ewan. Italian Viviani triumphed in the first pure sprint opportunity of the Tour after the uphill effort in Brussels on the opening day.

Geraint Thomas slipped behind Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal in the Tour de France pecking order on stage three after losing five seconds to the Colombian rider in a steep hilltop finish in Epernay.

"I said today "I will only focus on Max Richeze's wheel", I know Morkov does an fantastic job, he is the best in choosing the time and he did it perfectly today".

"It is what it is", Thomas said.

The trio was eventually caught with 17 kilometers left, in the small Cote de Maron climb, leaving the spotlights on the fastest men of the peloton.

The race hits the mountains of the Vosges with this undulating 175.5km ride which features four categorised climbs ahead of a flat finish in Colmar.