Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel edges ahead of Coquard to seal win.Getty

Marcel Kittel has won stage four of the Tour de France in Limoges after edging ahead of Bryan Coquard. Etixx-QuickStep rider Kittel just about managed to hold off a powerful surge from Coquard of Direct Energie on another day of close margins.

Peter Sagan retains the yellow jersey after a third place finish and holds an overall lead of 12 seconds.

Mark Cavendish, who won stage three by a similarly slender advantage on Monday (6 July) ahead of Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal to claim his 28th Tour de France stage win of his career, crossed the finishing line in eighth place.

Tuesday's stage was the longest of the Tour at an exhausting 237.5km from Saumur.

Cavendish, who won two of the first three stages, found himself boxed in inside the final 400m stretch and was unable to close the gap on the leading pack, while Team Sky's Chris Froome finished the day well adrift the peloton in 37th and is now 18 seconds down on Sagan.

Tinkoff's Sagan holds an overall lead over Julian Alaphilippe in second and Alejandro Valverde in third. Froome sits in fifth place with Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) jumping ahead of him into fourth.

"I'm very emotional right now. It feels like my first stage win again. I'm super-happy. I'm very proud because the team was really fighting for this win," Kimmel said after clinching his ninth Tour stage win. "Some things went wrong these last days and I'm so happy to be back in the Tour and to win a stage, especially like this, with this uphill. I can't believe it."