Matteo Trentin won Friday's 2014 Tour de France stage, narrowly beating favourite Peter Sagan in a mass sprint that was marred by two late crashes.
|2||Peter Sagan||Cannondale||same time|
|8||Sylvain Chavanel||I AM Cycling||st.|
|10||Greg van Avermaet||BMC||st.|
The difference between Trentin and Sagan was less than an inch, as even the photo finish initially couldn't tell the two riders apart. After careful deliberation, the win was given to the Italian sprinter, per Movistar Team:
The profile for Friday's race was relatively flat with two Category 4 climbs in the finale, giving the adventurous riders a chance to escape the mass sprint that pundits were predicting, via Le Tour de France:
Six riders chose to make an early break despite the length of Stage 7, including Switzerland's Martin Elmiger and Poland's Bartosz Huzarski. The peloton was happy to give them a big lead early, as shared by TourLive2014:
Break of the day: Elmiger (IAM), Busche (TFR), Huzarski (TNE), Edet (COF), Delaplace (BSE) & Pichot (EUC) #TDF— Tour de José LIVE (@TourLive2014) July 11, 2014
The Netherlands' Stef Clement became the 10th rider forced to abandon the 2014 Tour de France. An early crash left him unable to even stand up and get back on his bike, per Le Tour de France:
Riding for favourite Sagan, Cannondale started to push the tempo, and the rest of the pack had difficulties keeping up, which gave the six on the break a chance to continue working on their lead whenever the peloton was forced to hold back to allow the top contenders to return.
Elmiger and Huzarski left their fellow riders with 50 kilometers still to go, as Team Sky and Cannondale seemed bent on catching the leading group before the first of two late climbs. The two survived until the very foot of the Cote de Maron, with 20 kilometers left to go.
Unsurprisingly, it was Thomas Voeckler who launched his attack early on the Cote de Maron, and his jump was too much for Andre Greipel to keep up with, as the German sprinter dropped out of the peloton.
Orica now got settled at the front of the pack, and their hellish pace completely tore up the peloton. Greipel fell back even further and was soon joined by Arnaud Demare, and a crash at the front of the pack saw Tejay van Garderen lose his position, via Le Tour de France:
Greg van Avermaet attacked midway through the Cote de Boufflers and soon got the company of stage favourite Sagan, as the two decided to work together to stay in front of the chase.
The duo was caught in the final kilometer, but Sagan immediately positioned himself at the front of the pack. Two late crashes derailed the sprint completely, and Trentin was forced to make his jump from a long way out.
The Italian stalled and was nearly caught by Sagan, who took too long to find space at the side of the pack to start his sprint. The points leader took an even stronger hold on the green jersey, however, and Sagan now looks like a safe bet to still be wearing it by the time the peloton arrives in Paris.
|9||Greg van Avermaet||BMC Racing||60|
|2||Blel Kadri||AG2R La Mondiale||5|
|5||Luis Angel Mate Mardones||Cofidis||3|
|10||David de la Cruz Melgarejo||NetApp-Endura||2|
|1||Vincenzo Nibali||Astana||29h 57' 04''|
The first week of the 2014 Tour was a lot more challenging than the riders anticipated, and the pack looks tired heading into Saturday's stage, the race's first real mountain stage.
Three climbs will be waiting for the riders at the end of the stage, and we could see the contenders for the general classification finally show us what form they are in as the peloton draws near to the finish line.
The sprinters dominated the opening week of this year's Tour, as expected, but with the exception of Sagan, nearly every other top rider struggled with Friday's two Category 4 climbs. The Alps and Pyrenees will be a real test for these sprinters, and with Sagan already sporting a 113-point advantage, the battle for the green jersey appears to be as good as over.