Cavendish Wins Stage 7 of Tour de France
For the first time in two years, one of the most prolific stage winners in Tour de France history has won a stage of La Grande Boucle. Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step), who crashed out of last year’s Tour during Stage 1, took a bunch sprint to win the rolling, 190.5-km run from Livarot to Fougeres in 4:27:25. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) finished second, and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) finished third. Chris Froome (Sky) is the maillot jaune of Tour de France 2015, replacing Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step), who crashed and broke his collarbone at the end of Stage 6 and did not start this morning.
In the neutral zone, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) crashed. They remounted and rejoined the field. When the racing started, Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), and Anthony Delaplace and Brice Feillu (both from Bretagne-Séché Environnement) sallied off of the front in the first 1.5 km. The peloton kept the escapees close, and the latter’s lead maxed out at 3:50 at 27 km.
Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-Quick Step rode tempo at the front and gradually ground down the break’s advantage. The fugitives’ lead dropped to 0:50 with 50 km remaining and 0:30 20 km later. With 30 km left, Teklehaimanot sat up. Durasek and Delaplace were reeled in with 15 km to go, and the bunch reeled in Mate and Feillu four km after that.
Giant-Alpecin, Katusha, and FDJ went to the front on behalf of John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, and Arnaud Demare, respectively. Lotto-Soudal led the field into the last km. Katusha led out early for Kristoff, but the Norwegian got boxed in. Cavendish charged around him and past Greipel and Sagan for the win.
The victory was a fillip for the morale of Etixx-Quick Step, which took a blow when yellow jersey Martin withdrew from the race. "There's no hiding the fact that losing Tony was going to be a big loss to the team," the Manx missile said. "But we said yesterday that we'd win for him today. To go out and win to get the yellow jersey like he did, it's really sad. He's an incredible part of this team, on and off the bike. It's almost like we started the race with 12 guys and now we've got eight left. That's what losing Tony is like. I'm so glad his surgery has gone well. We would have loved for him to be here today, and to celebrate with us tonight. We're going to definitely dedicate this win to him at the celebration and I can't wait to speak to him later. I think the way we rallied together, and around Tony, shows the spirit of Etixx-Quick-Step.”
In the overall, Froome leads Sagan by 0:11 and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) by 0:13. Stage 8 might see narrow gaps among the contenders. The rolling, 181.5-km ride from Rennes to Mur de Bretagne will end on the Category 3 climb to the finish. Who will win? Froome? Contador? Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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