A nail-biting bike-throw finish in Nancy saw Matteo Trentin edge out Peter Sagan by the slimmest of margins after a series of crashes, including two in the final kilometre, put a number of overall contenders down on the tarmac.
Victory remains elusive for super-consistent Sagan
He extended his already commanding lead in the green jersey competition today (we’ll come back to that in a minute) and continued his record of having finished in the top five on every stage so far, but I suspect that Peter Sagan won’t be fully satisfied until he records a stage victory at this Tour. He won just once last year – stage seven, as it happens – when he and his Cannondale team burned off most of the top sprinters, enabling him to take the final dash for the line at a canter.
Today’s stage profile, though less vertical than last year’s equivalent, had Sagan written all over it, and Cannondale again put in a huge amount of work on the front of the peloton to set up their star man. However, Sagan’s decision to attack with BMC’s Greg van Avermaet over the top of the final climb with 5.5km to go was typically swashbuckling but might well have cost him victory.
After the pair were caught with 1.5km to go, Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) paced himself superbly, producing a monster lead-out of 500-600 metres to deliver Matteo Trentin into position. The Italian resisted the Slovak national champion’s lunge for the line to consign him to the runner-up spot for the third time.
It’s not easy being green (unless you’re Sagan, that is)
He may still be winless and a lot can happen before the Champs-Élysées but it’s hard to see who, other than Lady Luck, is going to stop Sagan from claiming a third consecutive green jersey. Already, just one-third of the way into the Tour, he holds a commanding lead in what can still be termed a three-horse race, but only just.
1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) 259 pts
2. Bryan Coquard (Europcar) 146
3. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) 137
With Marcel Kittel focussing on wins and impressive French youngster Bryan Coquard doing well to mix it with the big boys in both the intermediate and final sprints, Sagan’s speed and consistency ensures he can go pedal-to-pedal with them in the pure sprint stages while padding his advantage on hillier parcours such as today’s. Kittel and Coquard faded away long before the finish, scoring just two and nine points respectively compared to Sagan’s 42.
The Fastvak now leads the green jersey standings by a whopping 113 points. And while there’s still much work to do, I suspect we will look back on stage seven as being the day the green jersey was won in 2014, as it was in 2013.
There were no major changes in the GC today, although Tejay van Garderen (BMC) lost over a minute as a result of a crash with 16km to go. Fellow American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) came down after a touch with Orica-GreenEDGE’s Simon Gerrans barely 100 metres from the line. Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) also went down just inside the final kilometre.
Nonetheless van den Broeck and Talansky moved up one place to fifth and eighth respectively, while van Garderen, who was unable to regain the peloton despite the help of most of his BMC team, dropped to 18th, now 3:14 behind yellow jersey Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
VeloVoices rider of the day
It has taken seven stages for OPQS to register their maiden victory of this Tour, but Matteo Trentin underlined their strength in depth by recording a win at the Tour for the second straight year. The 24-year-old is most commonly used as a key component of the lead-out train but has a happy habit of delivering the goods when he has the opportunity.
Today may only have been his third career victory, but it’s already an impressive selection that shows he isn’t overawed by the big occasion: two wins in cycling’s biggest event and one at last month’s Tour de Suisse. Not only is he fast, he’s big and strong too, as evidenced by his ninth place over the Roubaix cobbles on Wednesday. And no one will be more delighted for him than his roommate at last year’s Tour: Mark Cavendish.
Stage 7 result
1. Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 5:18:39
2. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) same time
3. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) s/t
4. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) s/t
5. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 29:57:04
2. Jakob Fulgsang (Astana) +0:02
3. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) +0:44
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0:50
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) +1:45
6. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) same time
7. Richie Porte (Sky) +1:54
8. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) +2:05
9. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +2:11
10. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) same time
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
King of the Mountains leader: Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis).
Best young rider: Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Team classification: Astana.