Another long range attack pays off for Steve Cummings
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Cummings put himself in the very large breakaway group of 29 riders and for a time sat towards the back and kept his head down.
The group started to splinter and the British rider bridged over to a smaller group of leaders. We knew what he was going to do, he knew what he was going to do and his breakaway companions really should have know what he was going to do…
The 35-year-old went solo and as soon as he had a gap he worked to increase it. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) put in a big turn on the lower slopes of the Col d’Aspin to try and get across but could not reduce the gap. The Italian was then dropped and finished fourth on the day.
A great win for Cummings and perhaps not his last at this Tour. Whatever else happens at the race, he’s sent a message about his omission from the Team GB Olympic squad.
Thibaut Pinot sheds significant time on first big climb
The stage wasn’t a summit finish so was less likely to see any big moves from the GC, and once it became clear that the breakaway would take the day’s honours things remained calm in the main peloton.
All the same, Pinot was in trouble early on and lost contact with his main rivals much sooner than we would have expected. Without a huge recovery on the coming stages he could be losing huge chunks of time as the road goes upwards.
He may already be thinking ahead to a stage win on Mont Ventoux on Bastille Day to salvage the support of his home fans.
Watch: Tour de France 2016 stage seven highlights
The flamme rouge comes crashing down
Watching the live coverage, the camera was rightly trained on the those coming into the finish line to see how far down they were on Cummings.
The footage switched to a scene down the road and at first it was completely obvious what was going on, but it soon became clear that in the brief period between the break going through the 1km marker and the peloton reaching it, the flamme rouge inflatable had collapsed on the road.
The riders bunched up and eventually made their way through, before riding to the finish line at a sedate pace knowing that finish times would have to be neutralised.
Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) came off worst from the incident, as he could be seen stood near the deflated arch and his bike appeared to be on top of it. It’s unclear what happened but he was seen coming over the finish with a bloody chin and needed assistance from a teammate to get there.
Greg Van Avermaet extends overall lead
After his heroics on stage six, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) started the first Pyrénéan stage with a healthy advantage of 5-11. Many expected him to start shelling time on the mountain roads and perhaps even lose the jersey to one of the GC men loitering in the top ten.
Not a bit of it. Van Avermaet actually extended his lead to 5-50 thanks to a strong ride in the breakaway. He was dropped on the harder part of the climb but only by people already well down on GC.
He’s not expected to go very far in the yellow but stage seven shows that he could hold the jersey for a little while yet.
This was just the first of three tough mountain stages
It was probably the easiest, too. The Col d’Aspin is not to be sniffed at but with stage seven being a day for the escapees and the climb being followed by a long descent it was never going to cause significant classification movements.
Stage eight will take the riders over four categorised climbs but again finishes pretty much on a descent. This could be another day for the break, particularly now enough people have lost big enough chunks of time to allow them the freedom to go up the road.
The next day is a different offering as stage nine will see the peloton go up five major climbs, including the HC summit finish in Andorra. What’s more, it’s the last push before the first rest day so fingers crossed we finally get to see Chris Froome‘s protruding elbows and Nairo Quintana‘s poker face going head to head for the first time this Tour.