On the flattest stage of this year's Tour so far, the leadout trains were battling fiercely inside the final 10 kilometers to deliver their sprinters to the final 200m in prime position. With 3 kilometers to the finish, Argos Shimano had firm hold over the front end of the peloton and were working for Marcel Kittel. A kilometer later, the Lotto Belisol team had come over the top with other teams battling for the wheel of Andre Greipel except for Mark Cavendish, who was almost out of the screen at 500m to go. Steegmans dropped him off in fifth wheel and the Manxman was forced to jump early. By the time Cavendish made it up to Greipel, though, the other sprinters had jumped and were simply faster, perhaps because of a crash and resulting chase back on that Cavendish suffered early. Peter Sagan keeps his lead in the green jersey competition and Daryl Impey now holds the yellow jersey after finishing ahead of his teammate Simon Gerrans, who is on the same time.
On a day with only one category 4 climb coming over 100 kilometers from the line, a Mistral wind blowing from the side of the route was the only hope for derailing the expected sprint finish. And while there was a crosswind along part of the route, particularly in the final 100 kilometers, it was never sufficient to do more than induce nervousness at the front end of the pack. Pace setting was shared by teams of GC riders and sprinters as everyone sought to stay at the front of affairs. As the crosswinds persisted, the pace steadily crept upwards til the peloton was barreling along with 50km to go, but the Mistral winds were never enough to push the riders to the side and force gaps between groups.
In other news, it was a day for abandons as Nacer Bouhani climbed off the bike with 100km to go, feeling the compounding effects of a crash on Stage 1 and illness. The former French national champion had been drifting back through the race caravan for some 30 or 40 kilometers prior, coming decisively unhitched on the lone categorized climb of the day. Fredrick Kessiakoff also abandoned shortly afterwards.
- Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol)
- Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
- Marcel Kittel (Argos - Shimano)
- Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
- Juan Jose Lobato (Euskatel - Euskadi
- Daryl Impey (ORICA - GreenEdge)