As has been the case for most of this Tour, the Pro Continental teams make the break right from the gun. Perrig Quemeneur and Frederik Backaert were both in the break again today, while Vegard Stake Laengen of UAE Emirates was a new addition to this year’s breakaway register. The lead got out to 3’40” in 10km, with it stabilising at around 4’00”.
The average speeds on the flats in today’s crosswinds were much slower than the race to the slopes yesterday. While the peloton averaged 48kmh yesterday, the race was around 40kmh for the whole stage to Troyes. This pace slowly crept up as the KoM up Cote de Langres came by, where Perrig Quemeneur won a small bunch sprint for the point. After the KoM though, the gap from the peloton to the break was sliced in half as the feed zone approached.
Into Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, Backaert outsprinted Laengen for the major points, while Arnaud Demare won the sprint from the peloton to increase his lead in the classification. The only action from there was watching the clock between the break and the peloton shrink. Oh, and there was a parasol which attacked the peloton in a gust of wind, but no one was injured or hit. Perichon attempted to bridge the gap between the peloton and break when the gap hit around 2’15”, but failed to make it. Perrig Quemeneur again took the KoM points up the Cote de la colline Sainte-Germaine to take a sweep for the stage.
In the final kilometres of the stage, Greipel’s main leadout man Jurgen Roelandts had a mechanical, but managed to re-join the peloton after expending a lot of energy. Marcel Kittel’s sprint train was also trapped in the crosswinds with 5km to go, but were able to navigate themselves to the front before the final 3km. Dimension Data led the peloton under the Flamme Rouge, but Sabatini started the leadout in final 1km.
Boasson Hagen started the sprint from a long way out, 600m in fact, and held the front until the final 200m. Arnaud Demare cut on the inside of Boasson Hagen and was a nose in front of Greipel until the line, but from nowhere Marcel Kittel avoided the battle for position on the right of the road and steamed up the centre of the road. His ability to avoid the bustle of the others gave him the clean air to secure himself a second stage at this year’s Tour by a bike length. Demare and Greipel took the minor placings on the stage, while Bouhanni just missed out on another podium.
Tomorrow’s stage is a lot like today’s, with a flat finish into Nuits-Saint-Georges. There is one KoM to contest on the stage, but not much otherwise along the 213.5km route. The finish is slightly downhill with a tailwind and dead straight, which will mean a blistering sprint from the favourites.