Another stage of this Tour de France goes to a breakaway. This time a very, very strong group got clear on the misty Port d'Envalira (you can imagine that I'm putting a rant about it not being on television here if it makes you feel comfortable). After Ruí Costa took the honour (and €5000) of the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews and assorted team mates, Vincenzo Nibali, Greg Van Avermaet, Samuel Dumoulin, Mikel Landa, Gorka Izagirre, Edvald Boasson Hagen and his team mate Steve Cummings, Sylvain Chavanel and Tony Gallopin joined him in the front. That's a star-studded group, and there weren't many teams to chase it, so they got a good gap and looked competitive with the peloton going into the conclusion of the stage. So competitive in fact, that they didn't really get chased down at all, extending their advantage all the way to the line.
After the group split in the winds of the last twenty-five kilometres, it fell to Peter Sagan to set the pace, mostly because everyone else was terrified of him. He stayed on the front for much of the finale, and led up the climb of the Côte de Sainte-Ferréol. He attacked a few times, as did Daryl Impey for Orica, and Boasson Hagen, if less wholeheartedly. Gred Van Avermaet, who might have been expected to be best at such a move, was strangely conservative.
Sagan led down the descent and then a kilometre or so of the flat section, before he was relieved by Daryl Impey. Impey though, was enacting the oldest trick in the book. He led the group ahead of Sagan, but pulled off just that bit too early for Sagan to sprint off his wheel, with the aim of gifting the win to Matthews. The plan was nearly foiled by Van Avermaet opening the sprint, but Michael Matthews came around him and Boasson Hagen to claim victory. Peter Sagan ducked into second place, and oh, by the way, took a heap of green jersey points, which puts him in a commanding thirty-eight point lead.
Behind, the peloton rode the last few kilometres at an easy pace, with Trek, Sky and Etixx keeping order. The only bit of excitement there was Stuyven and Theuns mockingly lunging for the line, which I always approve of.
A transition day then. I think we transitioned.
|Edvald Boasson Hagen
|Greg Van Avermaet