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Tour de France - Cycling: Stage four preview

After three days in Denmark, the 2022 Tour de France arrives 'home' with Stage Four sending the peloton on a 171.5km ride from Dunkirk to Calais.

It has been a pancake flat start to this year's race but that all changes in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of north-east France.

Tadej Pogacar, the 8/13 race favourite and two-time defending champion, has managed to keep himself out of trouble - just - thus far, and will again look for an untroubled day in the saddle heading to the port town of Calais.

What

Tour de France, Stage Four

Where

Dunkirk to Calais

When

12:15 UK Time

How to watch

Live on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+

OddsWout van Aert 7/2, Fabio Jakobsen 7/2, Jasper Philipsen 11/2, Caleb Ewan 7/1, Dylan Groenewegen 9/1

Stage Four route details

Type in stage description for the first day of racing in France and the word that comes back is "hilly", although it's all relative.

Yes, there are a handful of climbs, but none of them daunting and while that would certainly encourage a breakaway to develop, the might of the peloton should ensure that it's the sprinters battling it out for victory when they get to Calais.

The first of the day's six climbs comes after 30km at the Cote de Cassel, the most severe of the climbs (all category four) is the Cote de Nielles-les-Blequin which gets to almost eight percent for a while, and the final ascent is of the modest Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez, 10 kilometres from the finish.

The real issues, rather than the modest climbs, could be when they hit the coast at Ardinghen with just under 25km to go with forecast north-westerly winds which would give them a real buffeting all the way to Calais.

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Three to watch

Wout van Aert 7/2

Belgium's Wout van Aert is the man of the Tour so far with a trio of second-place finishes and the yellow jersey on his back.

Part of the super-powerful Jumbo-Visma team, the 27-year-old former world cyclo-cross champion produced a stunning time trial in the worst of the weather in Copenhagen on Friday when he was beaten only by compatriot Yves Lampaert.

He was launched into the sprint to Nyborg on Stage Two and 50 metres from the line had victory in his sights until Fabio Jakobsen appeared on his inside. The six-second bonus, however, did take him to the top of the general classification standings.

Twenty-four hours later Van Aert and Peter Sagan were duelling to the line until he got rolled once again, this time by Dylan Groenewegen.

However, more bonus seconds saw him extend his lead in the yellow jersey and Van Aert looks a massive threat, especially for the sprinter's green jersey.

That will be his realistic aspiration since at some point he will have to start grafting on behalf of Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard, but for now he's enjoying this starring role.

Fabio Jakobsen 7/2

The man who replaced Mark Cavendish in the fearsome Quick-Step team, is repaying his bosses' faith in him.

Arguably the best bunch sprinter in the field being lead out by indisputably the best train in the field, it's a silky combination which reaped its rewards on day two with victory into Nyborg.

He got it wrong into Sonderborg by getting detached at just the wrong time, an easy enough error to make at breakneck speed when the stakes are high. He still trundled over the line in fifth place.

The 25-year-old Dutchman came into Le Tour as one of the favourites for green after signing off the Tour of Belgium by beating a top-class field into the sprint into Beringen, and so far he looks the man to catch.

Mads Pedersen 12/1

The Dane didn't get the dream victory he had hoped for in the two sprints in front of his own fans, but he should fancy his chances on Stage Four.

The Trek-Sagafredo rider was third into Nyborg on Saturday and then struggled to get involved into Sonderborg on Sunday, admitting he was "just not there" at the right place when it mattered.

He eventually trained home in 12th but Stage Four may well be more to his liking, with enough lumps to cause disruption in some of the better trains.

Pedersen, the 2019 world road race champion, accepts he needs to gamble, but just needs to identify the right wheel to get on if Trek can't provide it.

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