Has this first week of the Tour de France been one of the most exciting in soooo many years, or what? Yellow jerseys won and lost; one day on top of the world, the next in the wrong echelon; the Tour keeps surprising us day after day.
A long, largely downhill, though lumpy stage into the beautiful city of Albi saw Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) take the first of what will assuredly be many grand tour stages. His brilliant long-range sprint obliterated the other sprinters, though runner-up Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was on his wheel and came close with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) back in third place. The sprint finish came from the leading group of around 30 riders after echelon action had rent the peloton asunder some 25km from the finish, wrong-footing a number of GC contenders. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) remains in pole position but he now has the INEOS duo of defending champion Geraint Thomas and best young rider Egan Bernal sharing the podium.
Bastille Day. The sun shone. The crowds came out to fete both a Frenchman in the mailllot jaune and a stage finish in Romain Bardet‘s home town! A classy break went up the road to play for the win, and Daryl Impey kept his head to beat Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) in a two up sprint to claim his maiden Tour de France victoire – the first for Mitchelton-Scott in three years. There was no change on the overall as the GC guys rolled along thoroughly enjoying a lull in proceedings.