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Cobbles set to test Tour de France riders on Stage Four

media Belgium's King Philippe (L) shakes hands with the race leader and yellow jersey holder, Chris Froome of Britain, 7 July 2015 Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Stage Four of the Tour de France takes riders on a bumpy 223km route from Seraing in Belgium’s Walloon region to the northern French town of Cambrai on Tuesday. The cobbled roads on the longest stage of the race are likely to prove a challenge.

The ride from Seraing to Cambrai is relatively flat, but the cobbled roads will make it difficult for cyclists who have already endured a difficult few days. The cobbles en route are deep and pitted making the ride especially bumpy, increasing the risk of possible falls.

This year’s Tour de France has seen an especially difficult start with wind and rain making things tough for riders in the Netherlands through Antwerp and Utrecht on the opening two stages. Then a spectacular crash on Monday brought the race to end for six riders.

French hopes have not been doing as well as expected. Thibaut Pinot has already lost a lot of time, while Romain Bardet has struggled to keep up with the leaders of the peloton. Tony Gallopin is probably best placed, taking fourth place in the overall table going into Tuesday’s stage.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about Brit Chris Froome’s yellow jersey – is it too early to take top spot and maintain his lead so early on? Spaniard Alberto Contador remains the other big favourite. He was just over half a minute off the pace after stage three.

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