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Why on earth was there so much negativity yesterday? Comments on social media saying the Tour is boring and that the GC were a disgrace for not attacking on the finale up Mont Aigoual. Not every day is a day when the GC men want to attack but today Stage 7 saw the overall contenders having to be on red alert for crosswinds and echelons towards the finish in Lavaur when we least expected it.
The stage on paper was either suited to a sprinter or an attacker. Right from the gun underneath the engineering giant of the Viaduc du Millau we saw the sprinters distanced after some pressure at the front from Bora-Hansgrohe. Sam Bennett and Caleb Ewan were distanced, Bennett’s hopes in the green jersey damaged as he now loses the maillot vert to Peter Sagan.
There are moments in cycling when just the wind can hamper your chances, cause carnage and create splits. Echelons in the final 30 km and in seconds key favourites such as Mikel Landa, Richie Porte and Tadej Pogačar caught out losing time but others such as Egan Bernal, Primož Roglič, Guillaume Martin and Thibaut Pinot safe at the front. One split one moment and your Tour de France prospects are blown out of the window.
Despite being isolated, the yellow jersey Adam Yates did amazingly well to stay at the front and he remains in the lead going into the Pyrénées. Julian Alaphilippe even had a go in the sprint, the Frenchman still in top form. Pogačar will be the main man left disappointed as he lost over a minute and loses his hold of the white jersey to Bernal.
For the stage win, this year’s Tour just gets better and better for Jumbo-Visma as Wout Van Aert delivers his second stage win after Stage 5 in Privas. He becomes the first Belgian in 13 years to win more than one stage at the Tour de France. The young talent is making strides in the peloton and continues to shine bright. One year on after a horrific crash in Pau it is fantastic to see Van Aert, the winner of Strade Bianche and Milan-Sanremo don’t forget, back to his best. What makes him so unique is his daily routine at this Tour. One day he’s winning a sprint, tomorrow he’ll be climbing for his teammates in the mountains – a rider of supreme ability!
Looking at the sprint itself, one team and one man will rue the chance that they missed today. Bora-Hansgrohe did all the work in the early kilometres to distance the sprinters, kept the pace throughout the day but only for Peter Sagan to finish the sprint in 13th. He did have issues with his chain but this was the perfect chance for Sagan to bounce back and take a stage win.
Without criticising him too much because he’s a phenomenal bike rider, today he blew his big opportunity – Bora will be left with so many questions. Emanuel Buchmann is still 12th in GC and Lennard Kämna has yet to try for something special but at the moment Bora’s Tour has been far from happy. Yes, Sagan is back in green but he’ll be in no fit mood to celebrate right now.
With Giacomo Nizzolo out of the frame, NTT’s Edvald Boasson Hagen had a free hit today but finished in second and in Bryan Coquard we have a man who has come close to taking his first Tour stage win again. Stage 4 in 2016 to Limoges when Coquard came within inches only to be denied by Marcel Kittel, today couldn’t have been a better opportunity but unfortunately for Bryan Coquard it wasn’t meant to be.
Benoit Cosnefroy stays in the polka-dot jersey and a Tour de France stage is never complete without a Thomas De Gendt solo attack. He held a gap for some time before being reeled in as the riders headed through Castres – well done for trying Thomas!
The Tour heads into the Pyrénées tomorrow with our first super-category climb on the menu – the Port de Balès. Those that have lost time in the crosswinds today will be keen to claw back some time as quickly as they can. Adam Yates in yellow is the interesting talking point – what will Mitchelton-Scott’s tactics be tomorrow?
There are no summit finishes in the Pyrénées this year, two stages that finish downhill and perfect for the likes of Julian Alaphilippe or Primož Roglič to attack with their descending skills. This year’s Tour is far from boring on all terrain. Hold onto your hats because it’s about to get very interesting as week one draws to a close.