Here's what we were talking about on stage seven of the Tour de France
Cavendish reverts back to his old tactics
It was a stage that suited him perfectly – not particularly challenging and a flat final few hundred metres, something we’re not used to these days in the Grand Tours.
Cav’s downfall in his two failed attempts on stages two and five is that he was the first sprinter to put down the power, allowing Greipel and the others to simply glide past him.
On stage seven, though, Cavendish was the one being patient. He went a bit renegade and left Mark Renshaw’s wheel in favour of sitting behind Alexander Kristoff, who still had a teammate left in his leadout.
When Kristoff put his foot on the gas Greipel was the first to try and make the move around the outside, somewhat boxing Cavendish in behind the pair. But the Manxman’s racing nous shone through as he changed tack, shifted right and beat everyone on the inside.
The win gives Cavendish a welcome boost in the green jersey competition, sitting now in third 48 points behind Greipel. The German’s second place finish gave him a bit more breathing room ahead of Peter Sagan in the competition, who finished third on the stage.
Sagan’s run of top-10 finishes continues
He’s not quite gone under the radar, but Sagan has had an outstanding Tour so far without really getting the recognition for his riding.
Remarkably, it was Sagan’s 36th top-10 finish on a stage at the Tour de France, dating back to his debut in 2012. Of those, 24 have been podium places but the Slovakian is without a win in the race since 2013.
We’ve all seen it for the last few years, but Sagan’s ability to compete on all the flat-ish stages is astonishing. Be it a pan-flat bunch sprint, an uphill finish that wipes out the pure sprinters or a jaunt over the cobbles, he does it all.
His team manager Oleg Tinkov may not be massively happy with his star signing’s lack of wins, but given that he’s essentially riding on his own with Tinkoff-Saxo in this Tour his results are impressive.
Teklehaimanot retains his jersey
Dan the Man was taking no risks on stage seven when it came to holding on to his polka-dot jersey.
With only one single mountain point available on the stage, coming just 12km into the race, Teklehaimanot didn’t want to risk the chance of Joaquim Rodriguez getting in the breakaway to tie him on three points.
Therefore, the Eritrean got himself out into the breakaway once again and sailed to the summit of the category four climb to extend his lead to two points over the Katusha rider.
On Saturday only one point is available before the final climb of the Mur de Bretagne, so assuming Rodriguez doesn’t get into the breakaway, take the point and then win on the Bretagne, Teklehaimanot will keep the jersey until Tuesday evening at the earliest.
Then the real mountains kick in, with the hors categorie La Pierre-Saint-Martin at the very end of stage 10 offering 25 points to the first man up. The MTN-Qhubeka rider may struggle to keep hold of the jersey then, but don’t expect him to give it up easily.
Just the day the peloton needed
For a spectator the stage seemed quite dull and formulaic – a break goes out, the bunch catch them with 10km to go and then someone sprints to win – but for the riders it must have been heaven.
A little bit of wind was blowing, but nothing that caused anyone any real problems. There were no crashes that we saw and everyone, barring Cannondale-Garmin’s Nathan Haas, finished within two minutes of the winner.
There were no hills or mountains for the peloton to worry about and in relation to the rest of this crazy week, it was pretty civilised.
Cofidis back to what they do best
Just like we predicted after Nacer Bouhanni dropped out of the race, Cofidis got one of their riders out in the breakaway for the second day running.
Without the French sprinter the team in red are pretty lost, having formed their entire Tour team around him. Geoffrey Soupe was their highest finisher on the stage in 15th, with all the other wildcard teams having at least one rider higher.
I expect the team will draw straws again before the start of Saturday’s stage to see who goes off the front this time, although that method will be put to rest for a few days on Sunday as unfortunately you can’t form a breakaway in a team time trial.
Normal service will be resumed on Tuesday, though, after the rest day.
Take a look at Peter Sagan’s Specialized S-Works Venge