The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 7
1st – Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)
2nd – Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)
3rd – Peter Sagan (Bora – hansgrohe)
Stage 7 was the longest of Tour de France 2018, coming in at 231km. From Fougeres to Chartres, the peloton covered mostly flattish roads before the final sprint. The sprint was another complex one, with several roundabouts and corners in the final 10km, the last of which was a long left-hander coming with 1200m to go. It also featured another uphill finish, with the final 600m rising at around 3% On a stage looking nailed on for a sprint, and devoid of action for the majority of the day, it gave us the chance to appreciate the Tour’s finer points. We got some nice shots of sunflowers fields and passed through some cute little French towns. Wonderful stuff.
Yellow – Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)
Polka Dot – Toms Skujins (Trek - Segafredo)
Green – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
White – Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)
A 10 man break with big names like Naesen, De Gendt, Gerrans and Lampaert tried to establish itself, but that group was a little too classy for the likes of LottoNL-Jumbo, who were the main team to miss the move. It was then Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) who was allowed to try his luck; the Frenchman setting off on a solo breakaway, undeterred by the prospect of 200km into a headwind on his own.
Offredo was given a fair leash, with his maximum gap nearing 10:00. He tired reasonably quickly though and had only 4:00 lead by the KOM point at 115km to go. It was then that the course transitioned into open plains though, and the noted squad of roulers, AG2R La Mondiale, pushed the pace.
While Dan Martin and Mark Cavendish were both caught out by the splits, but there wasn’t the incentive for anyone to continue the high pace. Offredo was caught with 90km to go, and the peloton slowed to let the race come back together.
So Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic) who filled a bit of time, by breaking away at the 85km to go point and building a 2:00 advantage. The move was always destined for failure though, and he was brought back with 37km to go, as the teams of the sprinters raised the pace and lined out the peloton.
It was a pretty casual run in until around 10km to go, as the bunch had been soft-peddling for the last 25km. We started to see the Bora - hansgrohe, Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data and Lotto Soudal teams came to the fore and slowly pushing the pace. Still, no team could properly hold position at the front of the bunch with 5km to go, though Dimension Data were very visible, giving Mark Cavendish the support he needed for his breakout win.
Heading downhill to the bottom of the finishing hill that started with 600m to go, FDJ were setting the pace, but the Quick-Step Wolfpack were finally taking over. Alaphilippe and Richeze lead out Gaviria, but they ran out of legs, and the Colombian was forced to jump with 250m to go, a long sprint even on a flat road.
With Gavira faltering, Dylan Groenewegen came around; the Dutchman finally being sighted at the front of the race for the first time this tour. He’d surfed wheels expertly in the final kilometre and was perfectly positioned for the kick. He crossed the line still accelerating and then raised a finger to his mouth, silencing the doubters that came for him after an anonymous opening few stages.
28th – Simon Clarke
30th – Michael Hepburn
36th – Mat Hayman
40th – Richie Porte
87th – Simon Gerrans
104th – Heinrich Haussler
112th – Luke Durbridge
132nd – Mark Renshaw
154th – Rory Sutherland
155th – Damien Howson
The Next Stage
Stage 8 will be the last opportunity for a sprint until Stage 13, so it should be hotly contested. Two more Category 4 climbs come early in the 181km route from Dreux to Amiens, but it will almost certainly be a sprint. The sprint itself is on a flat road (novel, I know), but it’s a very complicated run-in. There’s a 2km descent coming at the 4km to go point with a 90-degree left-hander at the bottom, and then the route turns left at a roundabout with 500m to go.
Dylan Groenewegen has finally arrived at this year’s Tour! He’s turned up six days late, but he’s here now and that’s all that matters. We’re always eager to jump on a bandwagon, so why not tip him to go back-to-back?
See you back at the social club,