The peloton was battered by crosswind throughout the day but it all came back together in the finally 50 kilometres and it was the sprinters that had their fun.
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João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) kept the pink jersey in what ended up being an almost arm chair ride thanks to his team controlling the day and instigating the echelons early on.
How it happened
The riders had the first flat day of the Giro d’Italia to deal with on stage seven with the sprinters expected to have their fun. But the wind on the 143km route between Matera and Brindisi was a solid crosswind.
A four-man break of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Josef Černy (CCC Team), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM) and Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) went away early only able to establish a slender lead of around a minute.
Back in the peloton it was Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma who upped the pace as they hit the first crosswind with 125km to go.
The pink jersey, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and his GC rivals of Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) all made the split along with all the main sprinters, catching the break with 119km to go.
The second group had Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) within it but they managed to get back with 96km to go.
In the third group, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal), and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling) losing almost a minute to the leaders but they made it back in with 82km to go.
Pellaud and Frapporti both attacked as soon as the chase group got back to the peloton and the pace settled down with 77km to go.
A crash caught out Vanhoucke and Fuglsang yet again but both were okay and got back into the peloton.
Pellaud took the intermediate sprint ahead of Frapporti with Elia Viviani (Cofidis) pipping Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the peloton behind.
The break were, yet again, brought back with 60km to go as the peloton got ready for the second intermediate sprint that had time bonuses available.
A huge crash took out half of the peloton with 45km to go with Vanhoucke being caught out for a third time along with Pozzovivo, otherwise no major contenders were involved. Everyone came back together again with 21km to go.
The main road into Brindisi had more of a head crosswind which meant that echelons weren’t an issue for the last 10km with all the teams in colour order, protecting the sprinters and GC riders.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Jumbo-Visma and Groupama-FDJ were the teams that lead into the finish town before the lead-out trains took control.
It was Groupama-FDJ who put their man in the best place as Démare sprinted to the win with Sagan just sat on his wheel, unable to get by the French champion.
Démare extends his lead in the points jersey as Almeida keeps pink by 48 seconds over Wilco Kelderman.
The 2020 Giro d’Italia continues with stage eight on Saturday, a 200km route from Giovinazza to Vieste. The stage is a lumpy day but it could easily be another bunch sprint and another win for Démare.
Giro d’Italia 2020, stage seven: Matera to Brindisi (143km)
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, in 2-47-28
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
4. Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
5. Álvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
7. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bahrain-McLaren
9. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè
10. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis, all at same time
General classification after stage seven
1. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 24-48-29
2. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at 43s
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 48
4. Harm Vanhoecke (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 59s
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-01
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling, at 1-05
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-19
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-21
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-26
10. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-32