The riders faced another long day in the saddle on stage 7 of the Tour de France with 213.5km on the cards and a photo finish bunch sprint playing out in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Stage 7 provided the last chance for the sprinters before the first rest day on Monday so once again, it was a small breakaway of four riders that went clear as soon as the flag dropped.
The sprinters’ teams controlled the race situation and kept the advantage to under three minutes for the majority of the stage, while Richie Porte’s BMC Racing Team teammates kept him out of trouble.
The breakaway’s advantage started to fall inside the final 100km but the leading quartet put in an impressive ride to stay away.
With narrow roads and cross winds expected, it was a battle for positioning in the final 30km and Porte stayed close to the front of the bunch, protected by his teammates.
Although the advantage dropped to 30 seconds inside the final 20km, the breakaway fought hard to extend it back out to almost a minute as they approached the final 13km of racing.
With the catch eventually made 6km before the finish line, the sprint trains were in place and the stage victory came down to a photo finish between Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Quickstep Floors), with Kittel taking the honors.
Porte’s safe passage on stage 7 sees him retain fifth place on the General Classification.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“There was a bit of wind there and everyone wanted to be at the front. It was an absolute nightmare all day so it’s just nice to get that one done. Tomorrow is a bit of an unknown to be honest. It’s kind of a finish that we don’t normally do in the Tour de France, a 12km climb and then a bit of a plateau to the finish so I’m not sure what’s going to happen there so it should be interesting.”
“This weekend is the first real big shake up. We have climb after climb on Sunday and I think it’s going to be a hard weekend for everyone. You just have to see how it will be raced. There is a fair distance to the finish after the climb on Sunday so it could be a negative race.”