Tour de France Stage 7

Echelons threatened the riders into the final kilometres of the stage, but the riders came in to Nuits-Saint-Georges as one group for a sprint. And there were pixels in it.

The day’s break was again formed early on, with Maxime Bouet starting the move and Manuele Mori, Yohann Gene and Dylan van Baarle joining him in the attack for the day. The peloton let them go immediately, building a 1’45” lead by kilometre 3. Olivier Le Gac spent the majority of the early part on the front of the peloton in the relaxed ‘chase’. The gap was steady at around 3’00” until Team Sky started to lift the pace on the front and bring the lead back down into the 2’s.

At the intermediate sprint, Maxime Bouet attacked first from a long way out in an attempt to take the points, but Manuele Mori followed him and then launched off his wheel to roll over the line a few seconds ahead of the rest for the points. Back in the peloton, Arnaud Demare wanted to contest but was unable to do so due to bike problems, and Sonny Colbrelli took the best of the rest sprint after starting early.

Just after the sprint, Primoz Roglic went down in the feed zone in his first of two crashes of the day, but wasn’t hurt. He crashed again 25 minutes later with Dani Navarro and Romain Sicard, but other than a slight knick tear no damage was done. The second crash was caused by a surge in the peloton trying to avoid the echelons which were forming as the wind gusted to 40kmh. Up the Cote d’Urcy, it was a tight sprint for the KoM point. Manuele Mori went early this time, but was pipped on the post by Maxime Bouet. Dylan van Baarle looked like he wanted to contest the points but couldn’t get over the top of either rider.

As the winds increased, the peloton’s speed increased and some weaknesses started to show. Rafal Majka found himself at the back of the peloton a couple of times, but was brought back by Juraj Sagan. The breakaway tried to keep their hopes alive, as well as trying to go for the most aggressive prize, by attacking each other constantly in the final 10km. In the end, Dylan van Baarle won the prize as the break was absorbed with 5km to go.

In the sprint, FDJ and Quickstep led the peloton for Demare and Kittel respectively. As the final kilometre approached though, Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg took to the front in support of Edvald Boasson Hagen after Mark Renshaw peeled off, and EBH launched his sprint a lot closer to the line this time around. The sprint was quite slow compared to previous ones even with the conditions being favourable. On the line, Kittel came from just behind EBH, and launched his bike, and there were pixels in it. In the photo finish, it looked like Kittel and EBH were on the same line, but the jury handed Kittel his 3rd race win ahead of a devastated EBH. Michael Matthews rounded out the podium, while Degenkolb bounced back from his Stage 4 crash to take 5th behind Kristoff.

Tomorrow’s stage is one tailored for a breakaway at any stage, with the riders tackling the smaller slopes of the French Alps before the big one on Sunday. The summit of the Montee de la Combe lays 12km out from the line, and it will be anyone’s guess to see if a break will stay out or not.