Updated: Wednesday, 09 July 2014 02:35 | By Agence France-Presse

Froome suffers scare as Kittel continues to dominate

Defending champion Chris Froome suffered a scare in an early crash as Marcel Kittel continued his domination of the Tour de France on Tuesday.

Froome suffers scare as Kittel continues to dominate

Germany's Marcel Kittel crosses the finish line ahead of Slovakia's Peter Sagan (green jersey) at the end of the 163.5km fourth stage of the 101st Tour de France between Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and Lille, nothern France on July 8, 2014 - by Jeff Pachoud

Froome injured his wrist and will be taken for an X-ray later Tuesday after hitting the deck just a few kilometres into the 163.5km stage four from Le Touquet to Lille.

His Sky team were initially worried but after a trip back to the Tour medical car, Froome continued with a splint on his left wrist and strapping on his right hand and left thigh.

He was also sporting grazes to his elbow and his shorts had been shredded.

But Sky team manager Dave Brailsford said he was fine to continue for Wednesday's cobbled stage from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg, and that the X-ray was merely a precaution.

"He fell, it's clear to see, but his injuries are quite superficial," said Braislford.

"He felt well at the end but we'll still take him for an X-ray to ensure he's not got anything. I hope he's fine."

One of Froome's main rivals for overall victory, Vincenzo Nibali, the current race leader, said he had spoken to the 29-year-old Kenyan-born Briton but didn't know how bad his injuries were.

"We knew almost straightaway about his fall. When he got back to the group I went up to him and asked how he was; he wasn't in great spirits," said the Italian.

"It's not great for tomorrow, I don't know if it will effect his day, you'd have to ask him to understand the seriousness of the fall today."

- Confident over cobbles -

Wednesday's 155.5km stage that takes in nine cobbled sections totalling 15.4km that are usually reserved for the prestigious Paris-Roubaix one-day Classic, has been on riders' minds for days.

Nibali said: "First of all you just have to try to get through the day. I'm hoping for good weather and no rain.

"We've already ridden the course, (team-mate) Jakob Fuglsang will help me. These cobbles are new for me but I'm confident I'll deal well with them, I'm a good bike handler so I'll be OK."

Kittel is not expecting to challenge for Wednesday's stage but he believes his Giant-Shimano teammate John Degenkolb, who finished second at Paris-Roubaix back in April, has a good chance.

"There's no question that with second from Paris-Roubaix this year in John we've got one of the favourites in our team," he said.

"I'm personally looking forward to that race. Maybe there will be difficult conditions but we'll be ready."

On the flat sprint stages Kittel has no peers.

His victory in Tuesday's fourth stage was his third already on this Tour.

Although Giant failed to control the run-in to the finish as they had done so expertly for his victories in England on Saturday and Monday, he still proved too strong for the rest.

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff had led the sprint until the final 50 metres but thumped his handlebars in frustration as Kittel pipped him to the line.

Young French sprint star Arnaud Demare finally managed to get his kick for the line working as he came third, with green jersey wearer Peter Sagan fourth.

Even out-of-sorts German sprinter Andre Greipel managed to finish sixth in an incredibly close finish.

"Today was really, really hard, there was a constant high speed. It wasn't easy to stay together as a team," said Kittel.

"We had our plan but it didn't really work so we had to improvise a bit.

"We just made it in time and I sat in Mark Renshaw's wheel.

"It wasn't easy to make my sprint because Kristoff had a gap. But I was asking myself if it was smart (of him) to start that early."

With three wins already on this Tour and 17 stages to come, Kittel is well placed to beat his four victories from 12 months ago.

"Before the race I said my goal was to win one stage," said Kittel. 

"I said last year it was unique to win four stages and wear the yellow jersey. Yet again it's a little similar this year.

"It's very unique and not something you can expect every time. I'm very happy it's working so well."

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