The Tour’s longest stage, a 231km (+10km neutral section) slog from Fougères to Chartres, went more or less as expected: a couple of opportunistic breakaways, a brief period of animation mid-race when some crosswinds made a fleeting appearance, and a flat run-in ensuring that the sprinters would have their day.
A representative of a wildcard team, Yoann Offredo from Wanty Groupe-Gobert, forged a lonely path at the head of the race, at one point extending his advantage as high as 9 minutes. There was little chance of the move sticking, however; the final nail in the coffin was a brief moment of excitement where the peloton split into echelons in the crosswinds about 100km from the stage’s end. As AG2R and Movistar lifted the pace in an attempt to gap an exposed Rigoberto Uran and Dan Martin, Offredo’s advantage shrivelled. After over 100km solo at the front, he was swept up with 91km remaining.
Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic) was next to try his luck. Even though the peloton wasn’t exactly enthused in its chase as they ambled through the countryside, spread across the road, the prospect of a sprint finish lifted the tempo eventually. Pichon was caught with 38km to go. From about 10km out, it actually began to feel like there was a race underway.
Where it went off script was in the winner of the day, Dylan Groenewegen, pipping both Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan at the line – the beneficiary both of his own superb positioning and a slightly chaotic final kilometre – breaking the duopoly that those two riders have established so far this Tour.