Alexander Kristoff capped off what has been a brilliant year so far for him by taking his first ever Tour de France stage win on a transitional stage just a little too tough for some of the sprinters. As the race barreled towards Saint-Étienne the stage was set for a sprint, and one that Cannondale clearly hoped Peter Sagan could win after setting a hard pace in the final hilly 50 kilometers and successfully dropping Marcel Kittel among others. But though Cannondale had riders to spare in the final kilometers and hit the front with a strong looking leadout at two kilometers to go, it was Milan - Sanremo winner Kristoff who jumped early and had enough speed to prevent Sagan from coming around at the line. The maillot vert holder was forced to settle for yet another second place and his face clearly displayed his disappointment as he crossed the line. Behind, FDJ's Arnaud Démare crossed the line in third.
Earlier in the stage the early breakaway slimmed down from five riders to the duo of Sebastian Langeveld of Garmin-Sharp and Orica-GreenEDGE's Simon Clark as the final climbs began. Behind, Europcar contributed to driving the pace in order to set up Cyril Gautier for a counter-attack and bridge to the final breakaway. The French rider made the junction with a now solo Clark with teammate Pierrig Quemeneur at the top of the final climb. The minute lead the trio held was not enough to hold off the charging peloton, especially without a technical descent to complicate matters and with Clarke's legs obviously fried from spending hours ahead of the race in the high heat of the day.
The stage was not without drama, beginning before the start as Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky withdrew from the race with an injury to his hip. Though the American had ridden some 90 kilometers solo yesterday and beat the time cut by a narrow margin, the injuries sustained in a number of crashes beginning in Stage 5 proved too much for continued racing. During the race, André Greipel was caught up in a tangle with three kilometers remaining, denying Lotto Belisol a shot at their second stage win and making Kristoff's win much easier. During the sprint Omega Pharma - Quickstep's Matteo Trentin was relegated for changing his line in a move that blocked John Degenkolb from having a clean shot at the line in the closing 200 meters.
|1||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha||4:32:11|
|2||Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale|
|3||Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|4||Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge|
|5||Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin - Sharp|
|6||Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|7||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar|
|8||Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team|
|9||Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|10||José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team