It was a day for the tough men of the peloton to show their strength.
Wind and rain pelted this corner of Brittany and a sharp climb 500 metres from the finish line threatened to shake up the Tour de France standings. But when the riders had dried off and the Tour circus had begun to move on to today’s start in Carhaix very little had changed.
Thor Hushovd, known as the God of Thunder for his prodigious strength as well as his name, remained in the leader’s yellow jersey after clinging onto the wheel of stage winner Cadel Evans and pre-race favourite and 2010 winner Alberto Contador.
Spaniard Contador - racing despite being the subject of a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing next month into his failed drugs test at last year’s Tour - thought he had won the 172.5-kilometres route from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne, but Australian Evans prevailed by a tyre’s width.
It was a fine effort by Evans who has come close to winning the overall race before.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins remains well placed just 10 seconds behind Hushovd - Wiggins is one of three British riders in the top ten, David Millar and Geraint Thomas being the others.
While yesterday was a finish for the mountain experts today is one for the sprinters.
Rotherham’s Ben Swift doesn’t mind where he ends up on general classification. He only has eyes on working to keep Wiggins high in the standings, completing the race and picking up a stage win. Easier said than done in his first Tour but don’t be surprised if the Team Sky sprint specialist with more victories than any other British rider this year manages it.
He told The Star: “I have to be confident otherwise there is no point in being here. We’ll have a chat in the morning about what our plan is for the day and take it from there.
“I’ve raced against all these guys before. The Tour is when everyone is together in peak condition. There’s 20 sprinters all in good form.”
Swift, who reaches speeds of up to 45 miles per hour in the final metres of a race, said he is enjoying first Tour.
“The team is doing well, which takes the stress off. Everything is going to plan. It will be another ‘lumpy’ day but if I get into a good position I just know when I’ll win.”
Stage five - today: Carhaix to Cap Frehel (164.5km). The second all-Brittany stage should result in a straightforward sprint finish. But the route’s close passage to the coast could mean the peloton is disrupted by the wind. Mark Cavendish will be favourite here.