As the Tour de France’s first true “transitional” stage this year, stage 7 marked the longest stage of the 2019 edition at a monstrous 231 kilometres. If you are reading this write-up because other previous engagements prevented you from watching live or you simply fell asleep during the stage, count yourself lucky. As I write this, I’m left questioning myself on why I woke up with 100km from the finish. It truly was one of those stages where one could’ve turned on the television with 2km to go and not missed a thing. With that said, please do keep reading, because I promise I’ve gone to great lengths to make this worth something.
First week of Le Tour and it’s the usual up-down-left-right chaos. Nerves a-jangling for the GC favourites – take it as read there were incidents and accidents on every stage. Fast muscles a-twitching for the sprinters, and boy did they have a LOT of opportunities. And at the end of it all an appointment with the hallowed Roubaix pavé for the Tour’s very own A Sunday in Hell.
It was the stage before the Roubaix stage and the peloton took it easy, riding through some stunning countryside in a hushed fashion before they got down to business in the last 10km. The bunch sprint materialised as expected, but there was no French win on Bastille Day (even though Fabien Grellier tried his best in a day-long break). Instead it was Dylan Groenewegen who kept his own counsel, headbutted no one and screamed past Andre Greipel and Fernando Gaviria (who were subsequently relegated to last place for said headbutting) to make it his second win in two days. GVA still in yellow, but Dan Martin lost over a minute (and a lot of skin) due to a nasty pile-up at the 15km mark. He’s gone in for x-rays after finishing the stage. Julian Alaphilippe was involved in the same crash and though he looked in better nick, he dropped out of the top 10. Tomorrow’s stage should see the standings as shaken as riders going over the cobbles …