Matej Mohorič was the strongest out of 29 riders in the breakaway on the longest day at the Tour de France 2021 with Mathieu van der Poel holding onto the yellow jersey on stage seven.
Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) kicked away on the first climb and then stayed out in front, dropping everyone who joined him to solo to the line and complete his set of stage wins at all three Grand Tours.
It was an incredibly long day in the saddle with a huge break littered with dangerous riders and multiple attacks in the final few climbs.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) lost a lot of time as he lost touch very early on the penultimate climb. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) went on the move but was caught on the line with Tadej Pogačar looking solid but his UAE Team Emirates team looked weak as they head to the Alps.
How it happened
The longest stage of this year’s Tour de France and the longest day in the race for 21 years started in Vierzon and took on a lumpy 249.5km to Le Creuzot.
It took a long time for the breakaway to get away but when it did it had a very strong group of 29 riders with a couple of surprises in there, including the yellow jersey of Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and green jersey Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step).
The chase in the peloton was mostly left to UAE Team Emirates and it really affected them as they started losing riders very quickly on the climbs with just one rider, Rafał Majka, able to stay with his leader, Tadej Pogačar. The gap went out to over seven minutes and its highest point.
Cavendish did take maximum points at the intermediate sprint with all the other points being mopped up by the rest of the break. The Manxman then worked for his team-mate, Kasper Asgreen before dropping back after the first couple of climbs.
On the first couple of climbs Mohorič and Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal) both went away. They were joined a few kilometres later by Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-NextHash) but Campenaerts was not able to follow the pace on the climbs.
Various attacks came to try and join the leaders by Nibali among others, but Alpecin-Fenix tried to control the pace for Van der Poel so he could possibly go for the stage.
The hardest climb of the day was the penultimate one where the gradient kicked up to 18 per cent, the Signal d’Uchon. Various riders attacked out of the main break after Van der Poel’s team-mate Xandro Meurisse was done but up the road it was Mohorič who went clear on the steepest sections, dropping Van Moer and Stuyven at 18km from the finish.
Mohorič went over the top of the climb but he was slowly being caught by the Austrian champion, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe). Back in the main chase it was Asgreen, Van der Poel, Van Aert and Nibali flying through the groups that had attacked on the easier gradients.
The first of the outside GC riders in the peloton to attack was Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) after his team had worked all day. Ineos Grenadiers upped the pace dramatically and Primož Roglič lost contact showing that he was in a lot of pain on the steepest gradients on Signal d’Uchon.
The first major favourite then countered Latour as soon as he was caught. Carapaz used the steepest gradient just before the top of the climb with nobody chasing them.
Asgreen left Van Aert and Van der Poel behind but the two big rivals did go on the move themselves with about 8km to go. Mohorič was still leading and looking steady with 6km to go, holding well over a minute on the next chasing group.
Mohorič held on for the win with Stuyven being able to hold off the rest to take second and Magnus Cort sprinting to third with Van der Poel and Van Aert getting back to Asgreen.
Carapaz was also caught with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) leading in the GC group catching the Ecuadorian on the line.
Roglič lost around three minutes to the other big-name GC favourites as he continues to suffer from his stage three crash.
Stage eight heads into the mountains as we finally get to the Alps with a 150.8km route from Oyonnax to Le Grand Bornand with five categorised climbs likely making it another day for the GC riders.
Tour de France 2021, stage seven: Vierzon to Le Creusot (249.5km)
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
General classification after stage seven
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
Tim Bonville-Ginn is one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter.
Bonville-Ginn started working in cycling journalism while still at school and university for a voluntary site based on Twitter before also doing slots for Eurosport's online web team and has been on location at the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, UCI World Championships and various track events. He then joined the Cycling Weekly team in late February of 2020.
When not writing stories for the site, Bonville-Ginn doesn't really switch off his cycling side as he watches every race that is televised as well as being a rider himself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager.
He rides a Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on his local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being his preferred terrain.
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