Greg van Avermaet won something!
What a finale that was. It looked like it might come down to a sprint finish, but that nasty 600m kick-up to the finish in Rodez soon saw off the likes of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step). Perfect for GVA, who used his punchy puncheurness to punch up that climb and hold out against Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), who came second.
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Which makes a change (not for Sagan, see below), as GVA was quickly making a name as that guy who’s forever runner-up, or third or fourth (you get the idea).
Anyway, he seemed to be sprinting forever in that finish and it looked like he may have lost it, but the Belgian just made it to the line to chalk-up BMC’s third win of the Tour after their team time trial victory last Sunday and Rohan Dennis’s victory on stage one.
But van Avermaet could be on his way out the Tour in the coming days, as his pregnant wife is expecting around now. So he could be notching his win and hopping off by the next rest day.
Peter Sagan came second…again
With Alberto Contador looking out of GC contention, it seemed Tinkoff-Saxo were actually working for Peter Sagan for once in this Tour, but even that didn’t seem to help him avoid a fourth second place finish in this race.
Some say he sat-up too early, but that’s hard believe considering his words at the finish of the stage were reportedly: “I’m not upset, I’m pissed. It’s different.”
At 25-years-old, the Slovakian has shown a pretty cool head under the pressure to win from his team and the media, and always coming agnosingly close. This one seemed to bite that little bit worse, as he looked pretty gutted in the post-stage interviews, but he still has the green jersey after the stage, which will be some consolation.
There might only be once more chance for Sagan before the race reaches Paris to break his duck and that’s on stage 14 to Valence this Sunday. There’s a category two climb to navigate en route about 60km from the finish, so it’ll be tricky, but if he can shed the other sprinters there then he’s got a decent chance.
That was a brave breakaway
There’s not many days when being in the breakaway is a particularly enjoyable experience (unless you’re Thomas De Gendt), but when temperatures are pushing 40 degrees it’s got to be tough.
And the six-men that made the day’s key break didn’t give in, despite the fact they were left dangling at arms length in front of the peloton.
Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) was the first have a go solo with 20km remaining, but looked like had a bit of a telling off from his companions for making them work to catch him. It was seemingly a last gasp attempt by the Australian, as Wilco Kelderman’s (LottoNL-Jumbo) attack saw only Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) able to follow with 15km to go.
Those three held out impressively as well. They were down to about 20 seconds with 3km to go and they still didn’t give up as the approched the final ramp.
Dutchman Kelderman made a last dig to the line, but it wasn’t enough as the peloton crept up on them.
Jean-Christophe Peraud did not look good
As stages go, this was a relatively crash-free affair. The only victim of a big fall was last year’s runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud.
The Frenchman seemed to touch a wheel in front of him on a relatively flat, straight section of road with just over 60km left on the stage, and was seen in the background of the live TV shot sprawling across the tarmac.
And it looked pretty bad. JC’s left arm was pretty cut up with road rash, while his right wasn’t much better, while the rip in his shorts had taken a horrible toll on his upper leg and let the world see areas that should just be saved for Madame Peraud.
But he got up, finished and wins the award for Hard Rider of the Day (which we just made up.)
If we start a Kickstarter campaign, we could keep Europcar going
Come on, they’ve not got sponsorship for next season and they’re really trying. Cyril Gautier made it into today’s breakaway, while they’re sprinter Bryan Coquard even gave it a whirl along with Romain Sicard on a day full of mountains on Thursday.
Pierre Rolland’s also does that thing where he floats around the top 10 for a bit, as well as managing to represent amongst the GC contenders on the climbs. Now that’s good advertising.
Also, if they fall away, you might not see Tommy Voeckler gurning his way through the Tour on your TV screens ever again. And that’s not a pleasant thought.