Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) pipped Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) on the line to take the stage seven victory of the Tour de France 2019.
The Australian Ewan was denied a first Tour stage win yet again as Groenewegen picked up his fourth career victory at the French Grand Tour.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished third with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) fourth and Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) rounding out the top five.
Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) will remain in the yellow jersey heading into stage eight, with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) plotting how to take it back, lying just six seconds behind the Italian in the overall classification.
How it happened
Stage seven held the honour of being the longest of the 2019 edition of the Tour, with 230km of mostly flat road culminating in a bunch sprint in Chalon-sur-Saône to wake you up from your mid-afternoon nap.
After the flag had dropped two breakaway specialists Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) were ordered up the road by their directeur sportifs for the third time so far in this year’s race.
This task was undertaken with a fair bit of reluctance, judging by their glances behind to see if anyone else would be keeping them company as they made their way to the Massif Central region of France. Further company didn’t appear and so the duo set off for a long day in the saddle.
The peloton maybe got too comfortable too quickly, as a crash occurred after 7km of racing with Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) and Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) hitting the deck. Van Garderen was bloodied and bruised but appeared to be without serious injury, although he now faced a long and uncomfortable day of riding.
As the breakaway duo opened up a gap of more than four minutes over the peloton, Offredo grabbed hold of the back of Rossetto’s and gave him a gentle push forward, with the philosophy of marginal gains having seemingly made their way to the machinations of riding in a breakaway.
Mikael Cherel (Ag2r La Mondiale) then dropped back to the team car to change his shoes without getting off his bike, an impressive feat that should surely merit an award after the day’s racing, as Offredo took the sole king of the mountain point on offer at the top of the fourth category Col de Ferriere.
Rossetto then took two points on offer at the summit of the Cote de Chassagne-St Denis, with their gap soon being reduced to three and a half minutes at the halfway point as the powerhouses Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) dragged the peloton along.
Such was the pedestrian attitude to the parcours from the peloton that Toms Skujiņš appeared to find the time to fire off a quick tweet, cheering on fellow Trek-Segafredo rider Ruth Winder after she found herself in the breakaway on stage eight of the Giro Rosa, with Brit Lizzy Banks taking her first professional win after a solo attack in the last 10km.
However, the Italian team confirmed that this would be against the rules, saying it was likely to be his fiancée Abby Mickey giving everyone something to talk about as the kilometres slowly ticked by.
With 36km to go, Rossetto took the uncontested intermediate sprint, picking up €1,500, as Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) stole a march on Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) as the Italian led the peloton over.
A split in the peloton occurred with 28km left to race, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) caught after going for a natural break at the wrong time. Other riders who found themselves on the wrong side of the split included Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Martin has Movistar to thank for not losing any time on the stage, as Quintana’s faithful lieutenants dropped back to shepherd the Colombian back to the first group, assuring the whole detachment safely made their way back in no time at all.
After the race, Martin blamed television motos for the split, claiming they got in the way as a headwind made life difficult for all riders.
With 12km to go, Rossetto and Offredo’s day out front was over, as the sprinter’s teams took over at the front of the race.
Wout van Aert led the peloton into the finish town, taking a massive turn at the front with 5km to go with Geraint Thomas (Ineos) on his wheel.
Then Amund Grøndahl Jansen took over for Jumbo-Visma, before Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his turn as the sprinters jostled for position behind.
Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) seemed to have been given the perfect lead out once again by Michael Mørkøv and Max Richeze but appeared to hesitate as Groenewegen launched his sprint from behind, quickly followed by Ewan, with the Dutchman pipping the Australian on the line.
The wait for the Australian’s first Tour de France stage win continues, as Peter Sagan finished third to add more points to his green jersey campaign.
Tour de France 2019, stage seven: Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône (230km)
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 6-02-44
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal)
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
8. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
General classification after stage seven
1. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, in 29-17-39
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 6s
3. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida, at 32s
4. George Bennett (Nzl) Jumbo-Visma, at 47s
5. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos, at 49s
6. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos, at 53s
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 58s
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-04
9. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First, at 1-13
10. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education First, at 1-15