Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
(Want the Daily News Digest delivered directly to your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.)
Wout van Aert powered to his second victory of this year’s Tour de France on a stage 7 that featured no shortage of action despite its seemingly tame parcours.
The marquee sprinters in the peloton were dropped very early on the stage as Bora-Hansgrohe put in a big turn of pace on the day’s first climb, and the reduced peloton eventually opened an unbridgeable gap to those chasing in two main groups behind. Then, with around 40 kilometers to go, crosswinds blew that reduced peloton apart. Big names like Tadej Pogacar and Mikel Landa were among those caught behind splits, and although two groups of chasers joined together, those behind were unable to close down the gap. Richard Carapaz would then suffer an untimely puncture, dropping back to the chasing group as well.
What was left of the pack battled for the stage victory in a sprint, with van Aert topping Edvald Boasson Hagen and Bryan Coquard to nab the victory. Despite the hard work of his Bora team, Peter Sagan dropped his chain in the finale and finished 13th. He did, at least, retake the green jersey from Sam Bennett on the day.
Pogacar, Carapaz, and Landa rolled across the line 1:21 down. Adam Yates finished safely with the leaders to retain his yellow jersey with Primoz Roglic still in second and Guillaume Martin now third overall after Pogacar’s drop down the GC standings.
The 168-kilometer stage from Millau to Lavaur saw action right from the start. A handful of riders tried to get clear of the peloton in the early goings, with the Côte de Luzençon seeming like a fitting place for the day’s breakaway to solidify, but Bora had other plans. The German squad drilled it at the front on the third-category climb, dropping the likes of Bennett, Caleb Ewan, Giacomo Nizzolo, Cees Bol, Alexander Kristoff, and others.
The chasers would form groups as Bora continued to push the pace onto the next (uncategorized) climb, with Bennett’s group looking at times like it was close to reconnecting with the peloton—but those behind could not fully close down the gap. Eventually, it began to grow. By the top of the Col de Peyronnenc at a little over 70 kilometers into the stage, it was clear that sprinters were not coming back.
Thomas De Gendt pushed clear from the pack following the climb and spent more than an hour off the front, but the peloton worked to keep the gap very small.
With around 50 kilometers to go, Pogacar suffered a mechanical and then Landa went down in a crash with his Bahrain-McLaren teammates. Under other circumstances, the incidents might not have led to any time losses, but with 40 kilometers to go, the peloton hit an exposed stretch of the route with a strong cross tailwind. De Gendt was reeled in, and with Ineos pushing the pace, the peloton quickly split into echelons. Pogacar, Landa, and the Trek-Segafredo duo of Bauke Mollema and Richie Porte were among those caught out, and those still in front began working with Ineos to build the advantage, opening clear gap on the chasers.
Unfortunately for Ineos, Carapaz punctured inside the final 20 kilometers, and although the team sent Jonathan Castroviejo back to help, they were unable to rejoin the leaders, ultimately drifting back into a chase group.
NTT led the way as the select group at the front pulled into the finale, but Boasson Hagen was left to launch his sprint perhaps earlier than he would have wanted. Julian Alaphilippe briefly challenged at the front before he made contact with Jasper Stuyven and then dropped back. In the final hundred meters, Van Aert surged on the right side of the road and pulled ahead to take the win.
“I’m really proud of this one. Straight from the gun it was all out actually,” van Aert said after the dramatic day of racing. “I have to say, impressive stage from Bora-Hansgrohe. They went flat out on the first KOM and made sure that a lot of sprinters were dropped already. Afterwards it was always hectic. Everybody always feared the crosswinds. In the final we saw it was worth it to put a lot of energy into positioning. I think I was with Primoz the whole stage in the front. Good day for the team.”
Top 10, stage 7
1 VAN AERT Wout (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3:32:03
2 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald (NTT Pro Cycling)
3 COQUARD Bryan (B&B Hotels – Vital Concept p/b KTM)
4 LAPORTE Christophe (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits)
5 STUYVEN Jasper (Trek – Segafredo)
6 VENTURINI Clément (AG2R La Mondiale)
7 HOFSTETTER Hugo (Israel Start-Up Nation)
8 BERNAL Egan (INEOS Grenadiers)
9 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott)
10 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team)
Top 10, GC
1 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott) 30:36:00
2 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:03
3 MARTIN Guillaume (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) 0:09
4 BERNAL Egan (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:13
5 DUMOULIN Tom (Team Jumbo-Visma)
6 QUINTANA Nairo (Team Arkéa Samsic)
7 BARDET Romain (AG2R La Mondiale)
8 LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel (Astana Pro Team)
9 PINOT Thibaut (Groupama – FDJ)
10 URÁN Rigoberto (EF Pro Cycling)
In other news
| Narváez wins Coppi e Bartali
Jhonatan Narváez won the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, finishing third on stage 4 to ascend to the top of the overall standings on the final day of the race.
Pascal Eenkhoorn sprinted to victory on Friday’s stage 4 ahead of Diego Ulissi. Narváez’s third-place finish propelled him one second ahead of Andrea Bagioli in the GC, with João Almeida rounding out the final podium.
| García doubles up at the Tour de l’Ardeche
Mavi García took her second straight Tour de l’Ardeche stage win on a challenging day of racing in southeastern France.
After 135 kilometers of racing from Saint-Georges-les-Bains to Font d’Urle, the 36-year-old Spaniard bested Anna Kiesenhofer at the line to win stage 2. Lauren Stephens took third 37 seconds later, with the next best finisher, Victorie Guilman, hitting the line more than four minutes behind García and Kiesenhofer. García remains in the overall race lead with Kiesenhofer moving into second and Stephens now third.
| Report: NTT’s future uncertain
According to Wielerflits, the NTT team faces an uncertain future as the team brass has not yet solidified its sponsorship situation for 2021.
Wielerflits reports the squad is still talking to current sponsor NTT about the future, but nothing is confirmed at the moment.
| Pidcock extends his U23 Giro lead
Thomas Pidcock extended his lead at the Giro Ciclistico d’Italia, winning Friday’s stage 7.
The 21-year-old Briton topped Kevin Colleoni and Connor Brown at Montespluga to increase his GC advantage over Colleoni with one stage left to race.
| Coming up at the Tour
The climbers will have a chance to put their skills on display on stage 8 of the Tour de France. A 141-kilometer journey from Cazères-sur-Garonne to Loudenvielle will feature three difficult ascents, with a one-two punch of the hors-categorie Port de Balès and the first-category Col de Peyresourde in the finale.
In case you missed it
| Emma Pooley Everests again – this time on gravel
Weeks after breaking the Everesting world record, Emma Pooley has Everested again … on gravel.
| TDF power analysis: Neilson Powless’s breakaway lessons learned
Giancarlo Bianchi takes a closer look at Neilson Powless’s power numbers after his strong showing in the break on stage 6 of the Tour.
| 2020 Tour de France tech: Inside EF’s tubeless tire foam party
James Huang takes a closer look at EF’s interesting tire setup at the Tour.
| Using decades of Tour data to pick a winning break
Josh Silverbeck looks at the data on breakaways at the Tour de France.
Today’s featured image of Wout van Aert winning stage 7 of the Tour de France comes from Cor Vos.