CAMBRAI, France (AP) -- The latest from the fourth stage of the Tour de France (all times local):
Clouds of dust raised over the small road lined up with hundreds of fans as the peloton entered the second cobbled section of Tuesday's stage in Northern France.
Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team set up a quick pace at the front and the peloton stretched out and split in two.
Two-time champion Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and race leader Chris Froome are fighting hard to stay within reach of the Italian champion, who has launched another attack at the start of the third section of cobblestones after the day's breakaway riders were reigned in.
With its seven cobbles sectors, the fourth stage of the Tour de France looks very much like the Paris-Roubaix classic.
At 223.5-kilometer, it's also the longest of the race this year and comes after two days of frenetic racing in the Netherlands and Belgium. For Nairo Quintana's Movistar team manager, it's far too much.
"This is the stage of all dangers, I can't believe that we have to tackle such a dangerous stage at the Tour de France," Unzue told The Associated Press. "There were many incidents last year on the cobbles, and the riders don't deserve a day like this. Cycling is already one of the most dangerous sports, there is no need for extra danger."
Quintana, one of the four favorites for the yellow jersey alongside Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador, was briefly dropped after the first section of cobblestones Tuesday but easily made his way back in the peloton.
Raymond Poulidor, the eternal Tour de France runner-up, was left baffled by the organizers' decision to neutralize the third stage of the race because of a massive crash.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said the 10-minute interruption of the race on Monday was made to ensure the riders' safety. In Poulidor's opinion, it went against cycling's etiquette.
"Prudhomme said it himself, riders are like wild animals, they don't want to stop after a crash, they want to go for the kill," Poulidor told The Associated Press at the start of Tuesday's stage to Cambrai.
Poulidor, who secured eight podium finishes at the Tour during his career, said the race would have never been stopped in his racing days. At the 1968 Tour, he was involved in a serious crash after a motorbike knocked him over and fell on top of him.
"During my time, when a rider was down he was attacked," Poulidor said. "When I was hit by the motorbike, I was almost dead on the side of the road and my rivals attacked. When I had a puncture, I was attacked, when I stopped for a piss, I was attacked. And that was normal."
Back in the yellow jersey for the first time since winning the Tour de France two years ago, British rider Chris Froome leads out the peloton Tuesday for the fourth stage of the race.
Froome took the jersey from Fabian Cancellara in Monday's crash-marred third stage, and holds a slim one-second lead over German rider Tony Martin and 13 seconds over American rider Tejay Van Garderen.
After two days of chaotic racing, stage 4 promises to be another eventful one. At 223.5 kilometers it is the longest of the race and features several treacherous cobblestone sections that should ensure some nerve-jangling moments for a peloton somewhat banged-up after Monday's heavy crash took down some 20 riders.