TdF Stage 7: Sagan Finally Gets His Win

No fancy victory salutes this time. - Bryn Lennon

Cannondale took advantage of climbs in the middle of the stage today, pressing the pace and dispatching many sprinters including Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, and Marcel Kittel. With the quickest in the race gone, the sprint was Peter Sagan's to lose.

With a fair amount of climbing, today was the day we thought a breakaway might just stay away to the line. Of course, it was also the sort of stage Peter Sagan would lick his chops at, and with most of the climbing coming in the first 150km of the stage, Mark Cavendish and the other pure sprinters thought they may have a chance today as well. Those dreams began to die on the category 3 Côte de la Quintaine, which summited with 57 kilometers left to race. Cannondale massed at the front of the peloton and set a fierce tempo, shedding almost all who could challenge Sagan.

Once the descent had finished and there were still 45km to the line, the gap to the group containing Cavendish, Greipel, and Kittel was one minute and the Cannondale and Lotto - Belisol teams were riding a team pursuit match, one trying to pry open the gap and the other to close it. It was Cannondale who won and the second group on the road sat up, eventually finishing over 12 minutes down. After Sagan easily won the intermediate sprint some 135km into the race, Stage 2 winner and previous yellow jersey wearer Jan Bakelants jumped free with Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Juan José Oroz (Euskatel - Euskadi) for company, the latter two gunning for a stage win and Bakelants with intentions of reclaiming the yellow jersey.

Cannondale would not be denied their stage win, however, and neither would ORICA - GreenEdge relinquish the maillot jaune from the shoulders of Daryl Impey, so the trio's adventure ended inside the final 10km after never seeming too threatening. After such a hard day on the front, Cannondale's leadout began to misfire, almost coming a-cropper in a roundabout 3.5km from the finish. As Argos-Shimano took up the reigns for John Degenkolb, order was restored. Though Degenkolb had a strong leadout and was able to open up the sprint on his own terms, he could do nothing as Sagan popped out of his draft and easily jumped by in the final 100m. Daniele Bennati almost pipped Degenkolb at the line for second.

Sagan's already sizable lead in the points competition has only grown and it is hard to see how, with the stages remaining, challengers Greipel and Cavendish could close the gap by Paris. After a long day in the breakaway, Biel Kadri (AG2R) now holds the climber's jersey.

Top 5:

  1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling)
  2. John Degenkolb (Argos - Shimano)
  3. Daniele Bennati (Saxo - Tinkoff)
  4. Michael Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
  5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)
Overall Classification:
  1. Daryl Impey (ORICA - GreenEdge)
  2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), at 0:03
  3. Simon Gerrans (ORICA - GreenEdge), at 0:05
Points Classification:
  1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), 224pts
  2. André Greipel (Lotto - Belisol), 130pts
  3. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quickstep), 111pts
Mountains Classification:
  1. Biel Kadri (AG2R - La Mondiale), 12pts
  2. Pierre Rolland (Europcar), 11pts
  3. Simon Clarke (ORICA - GreenEdge), 5pts
Young Rider:
  1. Michael Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
  2. Andrew Talansky (Garmin - Sharp), at 0:16
  3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar), at 0:19
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