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ON another tough day on the road, Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates kept the leader’s yellow jersey without a lot of help from his team, writes cycling expert JOHN TREVORROW:

THE Tour de France exploded back into action on day 7. After a couple of disappointing days the race burst into life on the 168 km seventh stage from Millau to Lavaur.

It was predicted to be a day for the sprinters with three lower categorised climbs in the first half and then a predominantly flat final 70 km. But Bora-Hansgrohe, the team of Slovakian Peter Sagan, obviously didn’t read that script. They put the hammer down virtually from the get-go and put the sprinters under pressure to get their leader back into green in his bid for a record eighth sprinters jersey.

And that they certainly did. So on the first climb, only 10 km after the start, most of the marquee sprinters were on the ropes. Pre stage favourites Aussie Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep), were dropped as the peloton split into three groups.

It also took the pressure off Adam Yates in the Yellow Jersey. His Mitchelton Scott team were relieved of their traditional task of setting the pace. The speed never dropped and once the strong side winds came into play it was just a matter of when, not if, the race would split apart again.

Team Ineos, looking to show some authority, were putting severe pressure on the front group when a small crash 35 kms from the finish caused another split in the peloton. Some of the serious GC contenders were involved such as Slovenian Tadej Pogacar UAE-Emirates) who was sitting second overall, Spaniard Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Aussie Richie Porte along with teammate Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were all caught behind. They were later joined by Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos) who punctured. Jumbo-Visma and Astana then forged to the front to take full advantage of the situation. For the next 45 minutes we were provided with a relentless show of power pedalling and the gap ended up at just over a minute by the finish in Lavaur.

The depleted bunch provided a great stage finish. What was left of the pack battled it out with Belgian super talent Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) taking a brilliant second victory ahead of Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling)  and Frenchman Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels). In the final 100 metres Sagan and Alaphilippe both had mechanicals that probably stopped them from getting on the podium.

For Adam Yates it was another day in yellow but he would have been a little concerned that he had no Mitchelton Scott teammates with him in the final 30 kms.

In the end it was a really tough day,” Yates said. “It was on from kilometre zero to the finish, and we never really had a rest. Bora wanted to take it up all day. It would have been nice to have a rest ahead of the next two tough days in the Pyrenees.”

Mitchelton Scott Sports Director Matt White was a bit disappointed that Yates was left isolated in the finale

“Adam was well protected up until the split caused by INEOS, that’s a mistake from our guys. INEOS caught a few GC guys napping through the towns, they ripped through the roundabouts,” White said.

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“It wasn’t so much the wind, it was just that there was a lot of speed and yeah, it was a mistake from our guys not being there, but Adam handled himself very well to the finish line.

“I think a lot of people are expecting that we’re not going to give the yellow jersey away easily, but there are two definite days that breakaways could go. So, I expect an incredibly active first hour of racing tomorrow until something goes.

“Then the big thing will be, are teams happy with us to have the jersey for the weekend? Or do they want to put us under the pump, or put each other under the pump and see who’s actually climbing well on real, proper epic climbs over the next two days.

The temperature out on the road may be climbing into the 30s, but the heat in the Tour de France is really starting to increase and cracks are appearing in some of the teams of the main contenders as we approach the dreaded Pyrenees.

Ineos are trying to regain some authority but every time they put the riders on the front something backfires. Same with Bahrain and UAE. The Jumbo-Visma squad, nicknamed the killer Wasps, have looked the strongest along with Astana.  

If Yates can hold the yellow jersey through until Monday’s first rest day then he could realistically keep it until the final week. But that is going to be a tough task his Mitchelton Scott team are going to have to really step up. Particularly Esteban Chaves and Mikel Nieve who will be crucial when they hit the high mountains.

Stage 7 results

1Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma03:32:03
2Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling
3Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
4Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
5Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
7Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
8Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
9Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
10Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team

GC after stage 7

1Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott30:36:00
2Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:03
3Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:00:09
4Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers00:00:13
5Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:13
6Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:00:13
7Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:00:13
8Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team00:00:13
9Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:00:13
10Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:00:13
11Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:00:15
12Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:00:22
13Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:00:22
14Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team00:00:34
15Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:00:41
16Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates00:01:28
17Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott00:01:34
18Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo00:01:34
19Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:01:34
20Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:01:34

Author: John Trevorrow

JOHN TREVORROW is a multiple Australian champion road racer and Olympian who has been doing media commentary at the Tour de France for more than 20 years.



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