My cheeky review of La Grand Boucle continues for what is the seventh day of racing in a row, continuing in the Champagne region. You know that it is a tough race when even the transition stages are over 230km in length. This was always a stage targeted for only one rider – The Terminator, Peter Sagan.

Long and Flat with 2 Climbs at the End

Why was Sagan the favourite for this stage? Well it would be long and reasonably flat until the final 20km where there would be two punchy small climbs before the race into the city of Nancy. The peloton let a breakaway get away at the start of the stage, but they were never really let out of the bunch’s sights. It was a group of six riders consisting of Nicholas Edet (Cofidis), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Matthew Busche (Trek), Martin Elmiger (IAM), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp), and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché). They tried to get away, but it was The Terminator’s Cannondale Team who charged in pursuit to keep Sagan in position to chase the win. Edet wouldn’t allow the breakaway group to give up and spurred them on. But it was futile. Huzarski and Elmiger (Swiss National Champion) both tried to hold out but were reeled in before the climbs started.

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Another Crash for a GC Contender

The American hope for yellow was dealt a serious blow with a crash in the peloton, where the blame was very much on his own teammate for taking him down. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) went down for the count while riding in the front, and I think he copped a wheel in the head too while he was skidding on the deck. He dusted himself off, and his teammates dropped back to help. But he never managed to bridge the gap and lost a further minute in time along with the skin.

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Meanwhile, The Shark (Nibali – Astana), Clentador (Contador – Tinkoff-Saxo), and the other contenders kept their noses clean… almost.

A Sputtering Finale and Photo Finish

After dispatching the two climbs, The Terminator was in prime position as the riders entered Nancy. He jumped with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) with 3km to go. But instead of monstering away to the finish, he held up and checked his race radio back to his team car. I’m unsure whether he was taking a call from his Mum or not but instead of riding to duel it out to the finish with Van Avermaet, he held up. He let the lead group catch him back up. Then it was back down to a sprint finish, now with a bigger group. The Terminator dropped his helmet to try and scare them with his second pair of eyes. In the final stages it was mayhem with Gerro (Simon Gerrans – Orica-Greenwedge) colliding with the Pit Bull (Andrew Talansky – Garmin-Sharp). The Pit Bull was sent somersaulting and in reality both were to blame. Lucky for Talansky, his crash occurred in the final 3km and therefore no time was lost.

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The final dash to the finish saw one of the key lead out men from Omega-Pharma-Quickstep, Matteo Trentin, shooting it out with the Terminator. The sprint was so tight that it came down to a… photo finish!

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On the line, there was not even a half tyre width in it and it took forever for the marshals to make the call. But in the end it was Trentin, who was probably not who the team expected to first see on the podium. The Shark is still in Yellow for the 6th stage as we head to the Vosges mountains.

The Cement Ladder – The Grey Jersey

Watching the toughest sportsmen in the world, I have decided to start a “cement” ranking that reflects truly great feats of endurance and the overcoming of pain (basically a bit of HTFU and a demonstration of adherence to Rule #5). Former winners include Jens Voigt (multiple times) and Johnny Hoogerland. Maybe ASO could make a special jersey, grey, for this category.

Not many points for this stage but here is how they scored.

2pts – Huzarski and Elmiger for pushing on with the breakaway, though ultimately failing.

1pt – Edet, for kicking the breakaway back into gear though ultimately failing to make it stick.

1pt – Van Garderen, who took his fall in his stride and limited the time damage to stay in the fight.

 

The current table is:

6pts – The Jensie (Voigt)

5pts – Cheng, Lemoine, Boom, Kadri, and Barta

4pts – Bideau, Panzerwagen (Martin), and Fuglsang

3pts – Dumoulin, Voeckler, and Spartacus (Cancellara)

2pts – The Shark (Nibali), Huzarski, and Elmiger

1pt – Edet, Van Garderen, Kwiatkowski, Mate, The Hornet (Horner), Froome-dog (now DNF)

 

For a more serious look at the first stage of racing check out.

Cycling News – Stage 7 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 7 wrapup

VeloVoices – Tour Stage 7

N.B. the photos of the racing have been sourced from Cyclingnews.com and the copyright obviously remains with the copyright holder.