Hello and welcome to Cycling Weekly's live coverage from stage seven of the Tour de France 2021.
Stage start time: 11.00 (10.00 UK time)
Stage finish time: 17.05 to 17.42 (16.05 to 16.42 UK time)
Follow live updates here:
Not for the Tour de France peloton though, who face a Friday riding almost 250km through central France. Not only that, there's a good amount of climbing to be tackled as well, which could play into the hands of a breakaway.
This is today's profile. The bulk of the climbing is backloaded into the second half of the route, with a category two climb (with bonus seconds at the summit) the biggest test, topping out at around 18km to go.
A reminder that's it's an early start today, with the race rolling out of Vierzon at 11am local time, aiming for a usual finish time between 17.05 and 17.42 depending on how fast the peloton ride the stage.
That speed at the beginning will largely depend on how easily the breakaway gets clear - if there's a big fight to be in there then the speed could be pretty high for the flatter opening sections of the stage.
Today is a massive day in the Tour. The longest day on the race in 21 years! Just a smidge under 250km of racing to be done and it's not going to be easy flat terrain.
That's because the climbs are beckoning as we start to head into the Alps!
Cavendish was saying, on the Bradley Wiggins Show, that the green jersey has now been geared towards the sprinters again whereas before it was over the climbs which Peter Sagan cleaned up.
So there is a possibility for him to go to green but he needs to get over the climbs.
Today is the day where we join the route that we would've seen had the race started in København, Denmark.
Instead, we have started at in Brittany so some adjustments were made, hence the length of the stage.
This was a special moment in Châteauroux yesterday though, wasn't it?
We've just set off on our Départ fictif and the neutral zone. We have just over 6km of this before the proper racing on the 249.5km stage.
Plenty of hills later on today with the first category two climb appearing at the Tour this year.
It's a lovely warm day in central France with maximum of 24 degrees C today which is expected at the finish.
We are racing! Immediately an attack from Victor Campenaerts. Everyone else looking around for a moment before Thomas De Gendt, Matej Mohorič and a few others to kick on.
I don't think this break is going anywhere as so many riders want to get into the breakaway.
De Gendt and co joined Campenaerts but the peloton also rejoined too. 5km done already.
Wout van Aert and Lukas Pöstlberger launch the next move.
Its attack after attack so far with riders like Mads Pedersen, Anthony Turgis, Nils Eekhoff, Magnus Cort and the perviously mentioned all trying to get up the road.
235km to go with no break yet.
Good morning folks, Alex Ballinger here taking over the live blog for the new few kms.
The day has started with an absolutely brilliant battle for the breakaway. It's days like this we should be grateful we get start-to-finish coverage from the Tour these days (forget about the shocking 250km flat transfer stages for now).
We've still got no breakaway after 30km, despite some pretty desperate attempts.
Every single team wants to get in this break and the pace is absolutely savage.
We currently have three riders hanging off the front, led by Kasper Asgreen from Deceuninck. But the bunch are chasing them hard and not letting them go.
This is going to be a breathless start .
Here's the flag drop:
It's been flat out since then. Asgreen and co. are caught, Bora now giving it a try,
🚩 The race is underway, 🇧🇪 @VCampenaerts is the first attacker of the day!🚩 La course est lancée, 🇧🇪 Victor Campenaerts est le premier attaquant du jour !#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/sx2xXb8Ew6July 2, 2021
We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a very important message from Wout Poels...
😃 Smiling is for free@WoutPoels @LeTour #RideAsOne #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/sJsFQuHKzzJuly 2, 2021
The rapid start to stage seven continues and still no breakaway sticking.
A few rider pinging off the front, but the bunch are still motivated to keep control as just about every team wants a rider to make it in there.
We now have six riders with a small gap, including Tim Declerq from Deceuninck. But they're not committing.
The battle continues.
The group is caught and another group is already on the move with Vincenzo Nibali amongst them.
Bunch is completely strung out on a long straight, do not envy these riders having to dig this deep early on.
🇫🇷 #TDF2021 Attack after attack in the early stages of day seven. For now, nothing sticks just yet. Some 📸as we took the start in Vierzon this morning. pic.twitter.com/ZhrF1bQYj1July 2, 2021
Update from Primož Roglič on his injuries.
Still suffering after his nasty fall on stage three, but after his TT performance still looks to be flying.
It'll be a tough day to defend today with a lot of climbs stacked up.
🇫🇷 #TDF2021 💪🏻💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/aDbY5GuYOyJuly 2, 2021
Mark Cavendish in the break alert!
There's a big group that has broken free of the peloton with some insane talent in there.
We've got Mark Cavendish present in the green jersey, Mathieu van der Poel in the yellow jersey, Wout van Aert in his Belgian national champs kit, and a few others like Victor Campenaerts .
This group has a reasonable gap on the bunch which appears to have slowed.
This could be the move for the day.
UAE are now leading the peloton and are looking a little bit nervous.
This new breakaway group is absolutely stacked with talent, including Simon Yates who I've just spotted and Vincenzo Nibali.
The gap is currently 25 seconds and it's growing.
200km left to race.
Okay here we go, the group now has 56 seconds on the peloton with UAE still leading the bunch.
There are 24 riders in the leading group and I'm about to name them all. Wish me luck:
Van Aert, Teunissen (Lotto-Soudal), Van Vaarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Nibali, Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Asgreen, Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step, Erviti (Movistar), Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Laporte (Cofidis), Van der Poel, Meurisse (Alpexin-Fenix), Guerreiro, Cort (EF Education-Nippo), Godon (Ag2r-Citroën), Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Gilbert, Sweeny, Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal), Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), Yates (BikeExchange), Houle (Astana), Campenaerts (Qhubeka-NextHash), Bakelants, Van Poppel (Interamarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Bonnamour (B&B Hotels p/b KTM)....
Our man in the field Jonny Long was at the start of today's stage in Vierzon to speak to the riders.
He managed a brief chat with Geraint Thomas, ahead of the first mountain stages of this year's Tour.
"It's still gonna be stressful but it'll be interesting now," Thomas told Cycling Weekly before the start of stage seven. "It'll be a different race, especially after tomorrow.
"We'll how it goes, hopefully I feel okay. It's just been a bit of a battle to get through. It's one of those things, hopefully I'll just feel better day-by-day."
The breakaway is continuing to extend the gap as the pace is still absolutely rapid out in France.
The 29-rider escape now has three minutes on the peloton, as today's average speed is 50.9km/h after 70km of racing.
171km left to race.
We thought the cyclocross season was finished?!#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/U8Vd1DTR4rJuly 2, 2021
When a sprinter heads to the mountains...
Cav really knows how to prepare himself for a tough day in the saddle at the #TDF2021 👇 pic.twitter.com/UPWLiqKSJ8July 2, 2021
Absolutely crazy stat from today's stage is that this is the longest day in the Tour de France since the year 2000.
Today is 249.1km long from Vierzon right in the centre of France to Le Creusot near the eastern border with Switzerland.
In 2000 the longest stage was day 20, a transfer sprint day from Belfot to Troyes as the peloton headed back towards Paris. That stage, won by Erik Zabel was a hefty 254km.
But these distances are nowhere near the longest ever stages for the Tour de France, as Tour would routinely cover 300-400km a day back in the early 20th century.
The longest ever stage came in 1920 and it was 482km... I feel for the writer trying to live blog that day.
Here's how things stand after 110km of racing.
UAE Team Emirates are still being forced to ride on the front of the peloton. That's because almost every other team has a rider in the breakaway, which means they don't want to/have to chase the break. Tactically this plays against UAE because they have to use their riders to keep the break at a sensible gap, but that almost means they'll burn up their resources and have fewer riders in the final.
Meanwhile up in the break, the 29 riders have 4-49 advantage. There's no one that currently a serious threat in the general classification, but there are some riders up their who could move back up the standings if the break makes it to the finish with a big time gap over the peloton.
As things currently sit, Vincenzo Nibali is the biggest danger in the breakaway. He started the day around 2-50 down on Tadej Pogačar. But if this gap holds he would move up into the top-10 overall.
Mathieu van der Poel is not expected to challenge for the yellow jersey in deeper into the race, but he could extend his advantage today if he can survive in the break.
Simon Yates is also in the break, but he's already 12 minutes down on GC so has no real chance of getting back into the fight for yellow, but instead he's a serious contender for the stage win today.
Intermediate sprint time!
Cavendish is the only real contender for the green jersey in this group (and he's currently leading it).
Asgreen led out the Deceuninck sprinter to an easy haul of points, with Cavendish taking the maximum. Konrad from Bora tried to sweep up a few points to help Peter Sagan in the green jersey race, but it won't make much difference.
After that bit of action, the breakaway will now be focussed on the finish. They need to get back up to a comfortable speed and keep extending the gap to the peloton to be in with a chance of making it to the finish.
The breakaway is starting to split up already. Cavendish and three other riders have slipped off the back, they're currently 11 seconds behind the rest of the break.
It looks like they'll get back in but it's an unwelcome expenditure of energy for them.
Speaking of Cavendish, our tech team have broken out the GCSE physics text book to try and solve one of the great mysteries in the peloton - why does Mark Cavendish's chain come off after he sprints?
"Interesting question!" said Tate. "First thing to note is that Deceuninck Quick-Step are running Roval’s Rapide CLX wheels I believe. These use a DT Swiss EXP ratchet system on the freehub, so different to the pawl-based design that we use. I’m not 100 per cent sure on exactly how that freehub would respond under the (pretty extreme) conditions in a sprint.
"My instinct is that if you watch the sprint back in slo-mo, Cav is noticeably more 'violent' in his sprint body movement, then he’s the only one who has quite such an abrupt halt in his pedalling motion (when he posts up for the win)."
Read the full story here: Why does Cav’s chain keep coming off in sprints?
Things have finally chilled out a bit in France.
We have 28 riders out front now, after Ruben Guerreiro from EF Education-Nippo was dropped. But Van Aert, Van der Poel, Cavendish, Yates and Nibali are all still out there.
They have 6-13 over the peloton with 93km left to race.
We're heading to the first categorised climb of the day, which starts in about 5km. Let's see who makes it over.
Right as they hit the first categorised climb of the day, I'm going to hand over to my colleague Tim Bonville-Ginn who will be guiding you through the next few kilometres.
Hello again... I'll be taking you through these first few climbs before handing over to Richard Windsor for the finish.
It looks like it will be a day for the break as the gap has gone out an extra two minutes since the intermediate sprint.
Currently, 89km to go, 2km to the top of the first climb with Meurisse leading his main man Van der Poel on the front of the break.
Back to the peloton, UAE still leads with the gap at 6-50. Potentially dangerous for the GC riders in the peloton.
Some great shots coming from today
Brent Van Moer went for the points on the climb but Matej Mohorič kicked over the top.
Mohorič took the two points with Van Moer taking the one. They now push on with 83km to go.
Some of the GC teams have come up and swamped UAE now as they are going over the first climb.
Movistar, Jumbo-Visma, TotalEnergies and Ineos Grenadiers all taking up the pace to keep their leaders safe.
Three riders hitting the deck including Amund Grøndahl Jansen. Tony Martin of Jumbo-Visma is now hammering the pace.
Meanwhile, back in front, Van Moer and Mohorič have about 17 seconds on the main break. 80km to go.
The peloton has now got UAE back on the front after the pace has gone out of it. Other teams came up due to the road tightening briefly.
The break coming up to the top of the next climb. Van Moer and Mohorič have gained 1-13 so they will battle for the one point at the top.
The chasing group are now pacing well again so that gap may come back yet. The peloton have got the gap now held at 6-27 with 70km to go.
Mohorič takes the point as Van Moer clips a gear for a moment. They seem to be working towards the stage rather than the polka dots.
Asgreen launches a move in the chase group but everyone jumps onto that very quickly.
Back in the peloton, Pogačar now has four team-mates left with him but Marc Hirschi and Rafał Majka do look pretty tired. Making all kinds of grimaces.
Nibali on the attack! The shark is on the move. He's looking to use the descent to bridge across to Van Moer and Mohorič. That won't be too easy either as Mohorič is probably the best descender on the planet. More so than Nibali.
Garcia chasing the Italian star down though and he isn't getting very far. 62km to go, 1-06 between the two breaks and now it is 7-13 to the peloton.
TotalEnergies are back on the front. This is absolutely baffling from the French team. Unless Pierre Latour is on amazing form, this is just a ridiculous tactic.
Campenaerts is the next man to his out with Jasper Stuyven following. Two very powerful Belgian riders. 54km to go with 50 seconds to the leaders.
Philippe Gilbert is the next Belgian to hit out. Asgreen kicks after him with Meurisse and Cort following.
Cavendish has done his last job of getting bottles and gels to Asgreen before the Dane followed Gilbert and now he heads back towards the peloton.
The Gilbert group has been dragged back. Laporte tried a little move but sat up as he was on his own.
Campenaerts and Stuyven are just 23 seconds behind the leaders, its 45 seconds from the front to the main break and then 7-25 back to the peloton with 49km to go.
Stuyven and Campenaerts make contact with Mohorič and Van Moer with 46km to go. A very powerful group, but how will they do on the climbs? Especially with the penultimate climb hitting 18 per cent gradients.
1-11 back to the chase now and 7-31 to the peloton.
Meurisse and Teunissen are working hard for Van der Poel and Van Aert as we hit the third climb of the day.
Ineos Grenadiers have come to the front of the peloton now as they battle with TotalEnergies.
UAE have only got Majka and Costa with with Pogačar now. I will now take my leave and hand over to Richard Windsor to take you to the line.
37km to go, the leaders have 1-45 on the chasers as Campenaerts gets dropped from that group, 5-15 to Cavendish and 7-04 to the peloton as Arnaud Démare is dropped from the main bunch.
There's another move from the second breakaway group with Patick Konrad and Magnus Cort trying to go clear, but getting immediately tracked by Asgreen with just over a kilometre to the top of the climb
Nibali now has another dig to try and bridge to the 1-15 gap to the three leaders
Ivan Cortina drops out of the chasing group as the pace increases thanks to Nibali, it's thinning down with three riders still leading
Mohoric takes the points over the category time with a minute's advantage to the chase group. A remind we still have two categorised climbs today with a category two climb topping out 18.2km from the finish
There's a small crash in the peloton as Pello Bilbao (Bahrain) touches wheels with another rider - there's a Jumbo-Visma rider on the ground but it doesn't look like Primoz Roglic
The peloton has managed to shave off some time to the break with 34km to go, with the gap down to 6-36
The category two climb, the Signal d'Uchon which starts around 24km to go, is pretty savage with an 18 per cent pitch in the before the top. There's bonus seconds at the top, which could interest the yellow jersey Van der Poel and potentially Nibali is they can get across to the three leaders Mohoric, Van Moer, and Stuyven
Confirmation that is was Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard that went down in the small crash in the peloton
The three leaders are around 5km from the next climb and still have 1-13 over the chasing group, but that's a gap that could fall away quickly up this next climb
Frenchman Franck Bonnamour (B&B) is currently between the two groups, but isn't making enough ground to close on the front group
There's little urgency in the peloton currently, but there's still a TotalEnergies rider on the front. The French team have been expending energy all day along with UAE and it's unclear why
The gap between the leading trio and the yellow jersey breakaway group has extended heading towards the climb, it's now at 1-36, with Bonnamour at 1-21
The leaders have hit the foot of the category two climb, which 5.7km long at 5.6% average
Bonnamour meanwhile has been caught by the second breakaway group
Xandro Meurisse is putting in a real shift for his team-mate Van der Poel, but at the moment it's giving the other riders a free ride with the gap not coming down
Mohoric is doing the pacing for the leaders on the Signal d'Uchon with 4km to the top, they about 2.5km from the 18% ramps
Wout van Aert's team-mate Mike Teunissen is dropped from the second group
Meurisse is still working hard for the yellow jersey, but the gap is sticking at 1-15. Will we see a Van der Poel attack on this climb?
But it's Patrick Konrad (Bora) who goes on the attack first, gaining a very small gap
Meurisse, Bakelants, Gilbert and Erviti are all dropped on the climb
Almost seven minutes later, the peloton have hit the bottom of the Signal d'Uchon
Konrad has pulled out a bit more of a gap with Magnus Cort in pursuit.
The leading trio are 2.5km away from the summit with 20.3km to the finish
On to the steep sections of the climb and Mohoric has dropped Van Moer and Stuyven, with 1km to go
The Slovenian champion has 1-25 over the yellow jersey group but Konrad has gained some ground and is at 55 seconds
The climb has really sorted out the breakaway, with Van der Poel only joined by Asgreen, Van Aert, Nibali and Yates at the moment
Yates is struggling on the steep gradients, with the yellow jersey group absorbing the riders who had tried to get away further down the climb
Asgreen has been setting the pace here, but Mohoric is still holding on well at 1-18
Mohoric takes the bonus seconds at the top of the climb and the KoM points, which puts him in the polka dot jersey for tomorrow. The lone leader has 17.7km to go now and a decent advantage - there's one category four climb left to conquer though
Still Asgreen on the front as the yellow jersey group cross the summit, there's just seven riders in there now with Bonnamour, Cort and Toms Skujins joining them
The peloton are just reaching the steeper sections of the climb with the gap to front down to six minutes. Pierre Latour has made a strange attack 1km from the summit as Ineos pace the bunch
Primoz Roglic is in trouble here on the steep section, he's just clinging to the back of the peloton over the steep sections
There's no Jumbo-Visma team-mates to help Roglic and the peloton are just getting away from him. This looks like the effects of his crash earlier in the week catching up with him
Meanwhile Cort and Bonnamour attack the second break group with Asgreen going after them. Can they bridge the 1-04 gap to Mohoric with 14km to go?
Pierre Latour is brought back by Ineos, but Roglic is slipping further back. Is this his Tour de France campaign ending already?
Richard Carapaz attacks!
Carapaz has gone solo over the summit, he's 1-44 down on GC so will be looking to make up some time he lost in the time trial.
Roglic has just reaching the summit, but could be losing time here with no team-mates to help him
Mohoric is showing off his descending skills here as he maintains his gap to the chasers
Mohoric has hit the final categorised climb with 1-20 in hand. This is a 2.5km climb but fairly low gradient so he should hold his gap
With 1-22 and 9.4km to go, the Slovenian champion looks like he could be riding to stage victory
Neilson Powless takes a spill in the peloton on a descent, falling into some roadside bushes. The American is back on his bike
Patrick Konrad is caught by the Corts, Asgreen, Bonnamour group, but they are losing time to Mohoric on this climb. It's 2-11 back to the Van der Poel group
Meanwhile, Carapaz is still out solo, with 38 seconds over the peloton
Wout van Aert has attacked from the third group on the road with Van der Poel.
Group one is Mohoric solo at 1-32, he has just 7.3km to go, group two is five riders including Asgreen, and Van Aert and Van der Poel are group three at 2-08
The peloton is at 5-24 from the solo leader, with Carapaz around 40 seconds ahead of them
We haven't been given a glimpse of Roglic since the climb, but it doesn't look like he's made it back into the peloton
Mohoric has just passed 5km to go and still has 1-38 over the second group - this should be a big victory for Mohoric along with taking the polka-dot jersey
Van Aert and Van der Poel have had a brief chat - it doesn't look like the pair will be able to close for the stage win with just 3km to go, but Van der Poel will extend his lead in the yellow jersey today and Van Aert will move up to second
Carapaz is losing time now and has just 25 seconds on the bunch, who look like they might catch him before the line
Mohoric is into the final 2km with victory assured with group two at 1-41
It's a brilliant ride by Mohoric, who looked so strong on the climbs today
Matej Mohoric wins stage seven of the Tour de France 2021
It's an emotional victory for Mohoric who crosses the line in tears, showing off his national champion's jersey
Jasper Stuyven (who was in the escape with Mohoric) has held on by himself between the groups to take second place.
I forgot he was even out there with no shots of him since getting dropped on the Signal d'Uchon
Van der Poel and Van Aert catch the Asgreen group in the final 500m, but Magnus Cort takes third place and the final bonus seconds
Here's the top five
1. Matej Mohoric
2. Jasper Stuyven
3. Magnus Cort
4. Mathieu van der Poel
5. Kasper Asgreen
Vincenzo Nibali has just crossed the line at 2-57 down on Mohoric, which will give him a big boost in the GC
Van der Poel has extended his lead in yellow but has Van Aert at 30 seconds behind him in second
On the road Richard Carapaz is still pushing on, and should take some time back here
Van der Poel looks absolutely exhausted at the finish - the 249km stage in this heat has been a brutal one for those in the breakaway
Carapaz's efforts are completely in vain as the peloton catch him just before the line. That was a big effort from the Ecuadorian who took no extra time over Tadej Pogacar
Primoz Roglic was not in the peloton though, and it looks like his yellow jersey hopes could be coming to an end here
Roglic crosses the line - it looks like he's lost around 3-30 today.
He had no team-mates around him at all, rolling in with two riders from other teams.
Here's the stage top-10:
1. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious, in 5-28-20
2. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-20
3. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-40
4. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
5. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
6. Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
9. Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, all at same time
10. Dorian Godon (Fra) Ag2r Citroën Team, at 1-44
Here's the top-10 on GC:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 25-29-17
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 30 seconds
3. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 1-49
4. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious, at 3-01
5. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-43
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 4-12
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 4-23
8. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at 4-56
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) Team TotalEnergies, at 5-03
10. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo, at 5-04
Ineos' leaders still remain outside the top-10. Richard Carapaz is 12th at 5-19 and Geraint Thomas is 13th at 5-29
Primoz Roglic has been cut adrift at 9-11, so it will take a huge effort to get back towards Pogacar at this point
What a hectic day at the Tour it's been, there's so many individual stories out there on the road.
Here's a quick overview of the current standings:
The full report on today's stage is up:
A remarkable achievement for Mohoric today, becoming the second Slovenian to take stages in all three Grand Tours
With an average speed of 28.5km/h on the final climb and 49.4km/h in the run-in to Le Creusot, 🇸🇮@matmohoric becomes the 2nd Slovenian with stage wins in all 3 Grand Tours, after @rogla.#TDF2021 #TDFdata https://t.co/xXoaCOSZJ4July 2, 2021
That was a savage day
He. Is. Tired.Strong ride again from Van der Poel to hold onto yellow as we head to the Alps 🏔 pic.twitter.com/GP1twPRLJPJuly 2, 2021
Here's some early reaction from Britain's Geraint Thomas after the stage:
Mathieu van der Poel described the start of the stage as 'a bit boring':
More Tour tears as Matej Mohorič out-thinks rivals so Slovenia still wins on turbulent stage seven.
"I knew I had a good shot," Mohorič said after he'd managed to complete his set of Grand Tour wins. "Today and stage 18 were most suited to my characteristics. I also knew Van der Poel was there to keep the jersey.
Wout van Aert reacts after moving into second overall at Tour de France
As Primož Roglič lost time on stage seven, will Van Aert become the chosen leader for Jumbo-Visma?
Jumbo-Visma pretty sure Primož Roglič's Tour de France GC battle is over
Sports director Frans Maassen says the team has to be realisitic after Roglič lost time to the favourites on stage seven
That just about wraps up our live coverage from stage seven of the Tour de France 2021.
We'll be back bright and early tomorrow to bring you more of the action as the mountain racing continues.
Thanks for reading!