Mark Cavendish of Etixx-Quick Step reversed the team's overnight fortunes -- and doubled its stage-winning magic -- with a perfectly timed burst past Lotto Soudal's André Greipel to take the seventh stage of the 2015 Tour de France. Cavendish gave an uplifting end to a tearful 24 hours, when the squad saw Tony Martin crash out while in the yellow jersey, and also brought his own streak of futility, dating back to 2013, to an end with his 26th career stage win.
Giant-Alpecin were the first to form much of a train, with 3km to go, along with Etixx-Quick Step, while Katusha arrived just after. Greipel sat a bit further back. But at a roundabout Giant Alpecin went left while the rest of the field went right, and Degenkolb's team suddenly found itself behind. That left Greipel with two helpers as they entered the home stretch. Alexander Kristoff of Katusha came alongside with two helpers in front of him and Cavendish on his wheel, and while Kristoff got to the sprint on time, he had nothing to offer. Greipel, behind Cavendish now, made his move but Cavendish sat on Kristoff for an additional second or two before squeezing through the Norwegian's left shoulder and the oncoming Peter Sagan's right hip. Cav had the speed, and Greipel could do nothing to stop him as the Manxman overtook him to the right. In fact, it was all Greipel could do to hold off Sagan for second.
Daniel Teklehaimanot of MTN Qhubeka gained the day's only KOM point to keep his polka dot jersey, which will be under threat tomorrow. But the points competition saw a great deal more action, with Greipel extending his lead to 199 points over Sagan's 187 -- a disastrous result for the Gorilla, not Sagan. Sagan will likely have many more opportunities to score points, while Greipel's are limited to intermediate sprints and the last stage of the Tour. Cavendish's burst took more than a day's glory away from Greipel and his Lotto Soudal team.
As expected, Chris Froome of Sky has inherited the maillot jaune, albeit by just eleven seconds over Sagan. He had declined to wear it today out of respect for Martin, with the race's assent, but will officially don it for tomorrow's stage.
|1.||GBRCAVENDISH Mark||112||ETIXX-QUICK STEP||04h 27' 25''|
|2.||GERGREIPEL André||75||LOTTO-SOUDAL||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|3.||SVKSAGAN Peter||47||TINKOFF-SAXO||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|4.||GERDEGENKOLB John||81||TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|5.||NORKRISTOFF Alexander||96||TEAM KATUSHA||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|6.||FRADEMARE Arnaud||24||FDJ||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|7.||USAFARRAR Tyler||213||MTN-QHUBEKA||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|8.||RSAJANSE VAN RENSBURG Reinardt||215||MTN-QHUBEKA||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|9.||ITACIMOLAI Davide||153||LAMPRE - MERIDA||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|
|10.||IRLBENNETT Sam||193||BORA-ARGON 18||04h 27' 25''||+ 00' 00''|