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Tour Report Stage 7

 

Millau to Lavaur

The wind blew and a green jersey favourite set his team to work. Moments later, a seemingly simple stage exploded into chaotic life. What followed was a four-hour masterclass in how to make your opponents hurt.

'Echelons’ was the word on everybody’s lips going into the stage, with strong crosswinds forecast for the closing 40 kilometres. However, Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team didn’t feel like waiting around until then.

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Utilising Daniel Oss to devastating effect, Bora pushed on on the first climb of the day, the Côte de Luzençon, only narrowly allowing the polka dot jersey holder Benoit Cosnefroy to win the KOM points.

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Unfortunately for Bennett and others, an unbridgeable gap formed and Sagan collected a close second to Matteo Trentin in the intermediate sprint that followed on the other side of the hill. Bennett and Caleb Ewan, also caught behind, might have harboured hopes of an easement in the pace after that, but it did not arrive. They crossed the finish line a full 14 minutes after the race winner after an all-day battle.

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Bora kept the pace high all day, with things getting nervier and nervier for those in the front group as time went on. Three Bahrain McLaren riders including Mikel Landa were tangled up in a minor crash at 40km to go, before Ineos took advantage of the much-advertised change of wind direction shortly thereafter to up the pace and rip the peloton to shreds. A number of GC contenders were early victims of this pace change – Landa among them – with another group of riders distanced just outside the 30km to go mark.

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A mechanical for Sagan meant he was unable to finish off the job done by his team-mates in a messy sprint. That benefited the seemingly untouchable Wout van Aert, as the Dutchman took his second stage win of this Tour. Landa and the team worked hard to minimise their GC losses, with their group rolling over the line 1’21” down from the yellow jersey of Adam Yates. With Tadej Pogačar also distanced in the second group the white jersey changed hands to Egan Bernal.

With the Tour heading to the Pyrenees across the weekend, Landa will have the chance to demonstrate his climbing form and regain some of the lost time. Wout Poels, meanwhile, continues his heroic battle against injuries incurred at the very beginning of the Tour, but will not be looking forward to back-to-back Pyrenean days.

 

 

Thanks to Russ Ellis and Chris Auld for capturing the race. See more of their work by following them on Instagram @cyclingimages & @cauldphoto