The Early Break
Unlike earlier stages in the Tour today the break didn’t get away in the first kilometer but the 9th as numerous teams tried to place a man in the move. Various riders went clear and were brought back with many thinking that perhaps a breakaway might work today.
With the two late climbs a lot of riders were thinking that this could be a day for a breakaway
The six men that finally made the move of the day were Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne Séché), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Bartosz Huzarski (Netapp-Endura), Martin Elmiger (IAM) & Matthew Busche (TREK). The six worked well together and built their lead up to 4 minutes before Cannondale said that’s enough and they quickly brought the gap down to 2 minutes.
A Long Day
Cannondale continued to control the break all day long as the riders took on the second longest stage of this year’s Tour and despite the breakaway working well together they just couldn’t build up a significant lead. Cannondale were a team on a mission today – deliver Peter Sagan to a stage win on a profile that looked perfect for his qualities.
Ted King & Jean-Marc Marino were especially prominent in their chase and the determined effort of Cannondale meant that Vincenzo Nibali’s team could sit back and have somewhat of an active-rest day as the Lime green squad did all the work. There’s never a truly relaxing moment in the tour though with small crashes and exisiting inuries leading to two abandons on the road with Stef Clément (Belkin) & Danny van Poppel (Trek) both leaving the race.
Time To Go
With the break all but done and the lead at just under a minute, Swiss Champ Martin Elmiger attacked his breakaway mates on a long straight section of road exposed to the wind with 45km to go and only Netapp’s Huzarski could follow. Aside from extra publicity though this move was doomed from the start and the pair were caught at the base of the day’s first climb.
Côte de Maron
At just over 3 kilometers long with an average gradient of 5% many thought that the sprinters would make it over but this theory was quickly disproved as Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge & Simon Yates drove the peloton with Marcel Kittel the first sprinter to be dropped, quickly followed by Greipel and Démare. It was then that Thomas Voeckler attacked in his typical style but his grimaces were shortlived as Simon Yates continued to turn the screws on the peloton reducing the size of the pack considerably and quickly catching Voeckler.
With thesummit reached and the Côte de Maron behind them there was disaster for Team BMC as their team leader Tejay van Garderen crashed with 16km to go after touching wheels at the front of the peloton. His teammate Peter Velits quickly gave him his bike but Tejay had limited help as he was obviously without Velits who had his broken bike on the side of the road and Darwin Atapuma who was injured in the same crash and had to abandon the race. On the approach to the next climb Tinkoff-Saxo took control forcing a very strong pace and the small BMC train was losing more and more time with Tejay eventually losing 1m02s by the end of the stage.
Côte de Boufflers
Back at the front of the race the peloton arrived on the final climb, a leg sapping 1.3 kilometer effort at 7.9% and once again a Europcar rider attacked – this time it was the grimacing Cyril Gautier who had a go. Tinkoff-Saxo still had control though and Nicolas Roche closed it down before Peter Sagan went to the front and then BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet attacked with only Peter Sagan able to follow.
This duo then found themselves off the front with 5km remaining but their lead was small and their motivation conflicted. Both wanted the stage win but Van Avermaet knew that Sagan would probably beat him in the sprint so he didn’t want to fully commit and Sagan was trying to hold something back for the final sprint in case they were caught by the peloton.
Without 100% commitment they were eventually caught with just under 2km to go and it looked like it was to be a small group sprint of 40 or so riders. Coming out of the last corner though with 800m to go a crash took down the back half of the group with Jurgen Van Den Broeck amongst the fallers. With the now even more reduced group contesting the sprint it looked like it would be a battle between Sagan, OPQS’ Trentin and Orica’s Gerrans as the fastest men in the group when Andrew Talansky and Simon Gerrans came together with the young American crashing to the ground.
Meanwhile Trentin had taken off on his sprint and going for the win but Peter Sagan was quickly gaining ground on him and in the final lunge to the line it looked like Sagan had got it with his faster finishing speed.
The photo finish doesn’t lie though and it was Matteo Trentin who took the win by a tyre width from a clearly very disappointed Sagan. Maybe if he hadn’t have gone with Van Avermaet he would have won the sprint? We’ll never know but the mood in the OPQS and Cannondale camps were worlds apart as Trentin celebrated his great win and Sagan rued yet another near miss at this year’s Tour. Seven stages down, top 10 in every single stage but no wins yet.
Happy times in the OPQS camp
Tomorrow the race goes into the Vosges mountains and there’ll be some big changes in the overall with some very tired bodies from a hectic first week at Le Tour sure to struggle on the race’s first true climbs. Keep it tuned to PEZ as we bring you all the latest with the PEZ himself on the ground reporting roadside.
Stage 7 Results:
1 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 5:18:39
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
5 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge
6 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
7 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
9 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
GC After Stage 7:
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 29:57:04
2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:44
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:50
5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol 0:01:45
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:01:54
7 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin – Sharp 0:02:05
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:11
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Rui Alberto Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida