The race moved back into lumpy territory today, with 159km of ups and downs which smashed and splintered the race like a cheap chair – aside from the yellow jersey group, which stayed together like a sturdy Chesterfield and gave Froome a comfy ride to the finish. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) rode out of the chaos, picking up plenty of polka-points throughout the day, but had to be satisfied with the King of the Mountains jersey as IAM Jarlinson Pantano’s irresistible charge down the second descent of the Colombier to set up a two-man duel for the stage.
Giant-Alpecin’s Tom Dumoulin rode away from a whittled down breakaway and powered his way up the Arcalis, climbing to victory through the driving rain (with added hail!) that must have left him thinking he was on a driving range. The Dutch powerhouse has now won stages in each of the three Grand Tours, and with his assured ascent of the Arcalis, proved that there’s more to his game than just time trials.
Rainbows often follow showers, and a rainy day in Normandy ended with Peter Sagan’s rainbow jersey emerging triumphant on the streets of Cherbourg. Julian Alaphilippe pushed the Tinkoff world champion all the way, at first passing him in the sprint, before the Velvet Samurai found a second kick, and came out of the young Frenchman’s wheel to burst for the line. Sagan actually thought he was racing for second place, thinking that there was a rider ahead from the break. (Good to know I wasn’t the only one confused by the race data!) Fittingly, the rainbow gave way, not quite to a pot of gold, but to a yellow jersey and, just like Mark Cavendish yesterday, this is Sagan’s first ever maillot jaune (but almost certainly not his last).