De Gendt is alone out front, with a lead of 16 seconds. There are a fair few false flats and a couple more actual climbs but this is a largely downhill run to Castres.
Huge blow for Bennett’s green jersey campaign. He would have absolutely needed every single point. Sagan took 17 points from intermadiate sprint and bypassed Bennett by 5 points. TOP15 at stage finish: 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. #TDF2020September 4, 2020
🇧🇪 And we have a @DeGendtThomas breakaway alert at the top of the Col de Peyronnenc!🇧🇪 Alerte échappée de Thomas De Gendt au passage du Col de Peyronnenc !#TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/ULegkykDXeSeptember 4, 2020
Meanwhile, Jungels takes the Bennett group over the top of the climb, 4 minutes in arrears and surely without hope now.
92km to go
Bora take over from B&B once more, and Oss raises the pace.
De Gendt is pushing on… This would be outrageous
Attack from De Gendt! The Belgian clips off in sight of the KOM banner and takes the two points on offer. Was that just for the points or is he planning a break? Ewan, remember, is out of the equation at nearly 7 minutes.
They come to the top of the Col de Peyronnenc, and Coquard’s B&B team take over at the front of the lead group. That’s the first time any team other than Bora have been on the front.
Declercq is on the front of the chase group on this climb, 3km from the top. That gives Asgreen and Jungels a break, but the big Belgian is not going to be able to eat into this gap. 3:30 now and it’s only going one way.
100km to go
Into the final 100km, and we have a quieter moment, so let’s re-cap.
It was a quiet first few kilometres but then Bora lit it up on the first climb, dropping most of the sprinters, and never letting up since on the undulating roads. The race has split in three as a result, with Sam Bennett in a 31-rider chase group that was just 20 seconds down at one point but is now at nearly 3 minutes. Jungels and Asgreen have toiled for Bennett in that group but were no match for the full-squad Bora charge. The rest of the pure sprinters – Ewan, Nizzolo, Kristoff, Bol, Viviani, but not Bryan Coquard – are in the third group, which is now 6 minutes down and out of the picture.
We still have a long way to go and crosswinds and exposed roads later on, so the drama is far from over…
Dumoulin will have no problem getting back through the cars and up to the bunch, 6.5km from the top of this climb.
Tom Dumoulin has a problem of some sort and has to stop for a bike change.
Yesterday was a non-event as far as the GC is concerned but there was one interesting development, as Bauke Mollema claimed he heard Egan Bernal yelling at Michal Kwiatkowski to slow down as the sprinted for the line. The Colombian came into the race with a back injury and there have been doubts about his fitness. More on that here.
This is how the intermediate sprint played out
💚 Second at the intermediate sprint behind @MATTEOTRENTIN, @petosagan is now virtually in green again!💚 Deuxième au sprint derrière Trentin, Peter Sagan a virtuellement repris le maillot vert !#TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/RIlUJHV4geSeptember 4, 2020
Bora appear to have looked at the gaps and relaxed a little. They haven’t knocked it off, and it’s still a strong rhythm on this climb, but the sense of urgency has waned slightly. The Bennett group has found a touch more group at 2:27.
105km to go
At 5:30, it appears Ewan, Nizzolo, Kristoff, Viviani, and Bol are completely out of the equation. At 2:40 now, it doesn’t look good for Bennett and co.
Still, there’s plenty that can happen on the rest of this stage, with the potential for crosswind damage later on. So far it’s the sprinters who’ve been hurt but this could well still turn out to be a big GC day.
What a ride this is from Bora, who’ve been on the front all day. On current evidence, they deserve their rewards today. Watch Wout Van Aert mug them off at the finish…
Ineos, meanwhile, have six riders up front and, like Jumbo, it’s their best echelon rider who’s behind, with Luke Rowe in the second group. Pavel Sivakov, who’s been struggling since his crash on the opening day, is back in the third group.
Jumbo-Visma have seven of their eight riders in the front group, in another strong display from the Dutch team. However, it’s their best flat-land/crosswind rider, Tony Martin, who’s behind in the second group.
109km to go
And now we’re climbing again!
The Col de Peyronnenc (14.5km at 3.9%) begins right after the sprint. Bora lead the large front peloton, 2:15 ahead of a 31-rider group that contains Sam Bennett and Martinez, and 4:50 ahead of a third group that contains Caleb Ewan and most of the other sprinters.
Alaphilippe accelerated there as well, presumably to try and scoop some points away from the others in defence of Bennett’s green jersey, but he was never going to trouble Sagan and Trentin.
Trentin nicks it, picking up 20 points to Sagan’s 17.
Trentin hits the front and Sagan responds. It’s neck-and-neck on the line, with Coquard third.
Time for the sprint then. Bora still in full force on the front. Trentin and Coquard move up
The green jersey group is now more than two minutes down. Ewan’s third group is at 4:20.
Julian Alaphlippe not happy with the moto. Or with me, I can’t tell. #TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/hOFQBjquPwSeptember 4, 2020
Trentin is in this group and has shown an interest in intermediate sprints before today. Can’t see too much other competition for Sagan. Coquard maybe.
115km to go
We’ve come to the top of that uncategorised climb and we’re now heading downhill. 5km to the intermediate sprint, where Sagan will help himself.
Want to watch this madness? Of course you do. Here’s how.
Sorry for another Pickering tweet but the man is on form today.
Anybody know the last time a stage went without a breakaway going?September 4, 2020
The gap continues to grow. 1:45 now. Meanwhile, Ewan and co are at 3:30.
We’re on that uncategorised climb now and there are once again some really nasty gradients.
The gap moves to 1:35 as the pace visibly drains from that chase group. Jungels is suffering, he looks around and sees Impey and other Mitchelton riders, plus Luke Rowe from Ineos, but there’s no help from them at the moment. It’s pretty much Jungels and Asgreen against the full Bora team, and the numbers are counting.
Jungels and Asgreen continue to toil on the front of the chase group but they’re struggling against this committed and constantly rotating Bora unit.
Back out onto the exposed plains and the gaps grow to 1:10 / 2:45. The wind is blowing but it’s more of a head-cross wind at the moment.
Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) is reported in the front group. He’s the only pure sprinter in there. Stage 5 winner Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is there, obviously.
The green jersey group slips back to more than a minute now…
People had been complaining this Tour was boring…
131km to go
Bora are winning this battle! The gap grows to 45 seconds. Meanwhile, the gap to the Ewan group (with most other sprinters) is out to 2:30.
Adam Yates is present and correct in the lead group but Mitchelton-Scott have men in the second group, and they’re riding with QuickStep. They need numbers up with Yates, for one, but also Daryl Impey is back there and could be a contender on a stage like this, if the pure sprinters are out of the equation.
Alaphilippe waves furiously at a moto camera in the lead group. He doesn’t want any aerodynamic advantage for his own group, given he’d like to see Bennett return. Back in that chase group, it’s Jungels and Cavagna burying themselves, while Bennett is a few places down the line with Declercq.
We’re heading towards another uncategorised but (at this pace) nasty climb, then we descend to the intermediate sprint at KM58, then it’s the long Col de Peyronnenc, which at 3.9% isn’t the steepest but at 14.5km could well issue more damage.
136km to go
It’s honours even on the flat as the gap between the main peloton and Bennett’s chasing peloton holds at 30 seconds.
This is Bora’s line-up. It’s hardly a squad built for the flat/wind or built purely around Sagan anymore. Buchmann is the GC leader, with Muhlberger and Grossschartner providing climbing support. Oss is Sagan’s right-hand man, Postlberger is another rouleur, while Schachmann and Kamna can do a bit of everything.
21 Peter Sagan
26 Daniel Oss
We’re heading through more built-up areas now and we’re back on flatter roads for the best part of 15km. Bora still on it.
Sagan and his team are doing to everybody what Sagan and his team did to everybody on stage 7 in 2013.https://t.co/wRNZ591xlWSeptember 4, 2020
Sunweb and Lotto are collaborating in the third group.
142km to go
The Bennett group is at 30 seconds once again. It has reformed as we head downhill now, and there are at least 30 riders there.
Bol and Viviani are now back with Ewan, Nizzolo, and Kristoff. That group is at 1:45 now!
Bora have drive clear daylight into this gap once more. They still have almost their whole team on the front.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have a headache here as they still need to make sure they have some resources with Alaphilippe, as crosswinds could tear up this stage later on.
The second group splits now! Bennett has Asgreen but Declercq is struggling on those gradients.
We’re on the uncategorised climb now and it’s really biting.
Bennett’s group looked to be getting back on, but Bora have eased clear once more. EF are leading that group, with Martinez in there.
Bora are still riding hard, and we have exposed roads here…
It looks like Sunweb are sending more riders back for the Bol group
The Bennett group is coming back to the front group now.
That’ll be because his group is just 25 seconds down, and he now has Asgreen to pull it along. Meanwhile, Bol and Viviani are in a third group at 1 minute, while Ewan, Nizzolo and Kristoff are at 1:25.
Bennett gives a thumbs up as the camera motorbike passes by. He doesn’t seem overly panicked at this point.
Kasper Asgreen sits up in the lead group. It appears he’s being sent back for Sam Bennett.
Will the sprinters come back? If those small sprinters groups come together and they get teammates around them to mount a concerted chase, then yes. Bora are piling on the pressure still but surely they’d need help from other interested parties to take this the distance. CCC have Van Avermaet and Trentin who could profit from this, but do they have (m)any other riders in there? Trek-Segafredo have lost Pedersen but still have Theuns and Stuyven who could sprint from a reduced group.
All the GC riders seem to be in the main Bora-led peloton. Just the sprinters who are on the back foot.
Bora continue the charge as we head downhill for a couple of kilometres before an uncategorised 7km climb.
Here’s how Bora nearly robbed Cosnefroy at the top of that climb.
⛰ He had to produce a huge effort, but @BenoitCosnefroy manages to score the points at the top.⛰ Après un effort très intense, Benoit Cosnefroy prend les 2 points au sommet alors que la @BORAhansgrohe imprime un train d’enfer dans le peloton.#TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/5uwfQryUUKSeptember 4, 2020
Ewan is in the last group on the road, with a couple of teammates. There’s a long way to go but this could easily get out of hand.
🇫🇷 #TDF2020 all sprinters dropped. great teamwork from our boys 💪September 4, 2020
Green jersey Sam Bennett is also in trouble
The Frenchman is passed by the Bora train in sight of the banner. He launches a huge sprint and they just allow him to get his nose out in front to grab the two points. He gives a wave in thanks.
Cosnefroy is going to get caught here!
Mads Pedersen, Cees Bol, and Elia Viviani among the riders losing contact
We’ve got flag-bearing fans on the road side and we can see the wind is blowing.
Cosnefroy has just a handful of seconds in hand now as he enters the final 750m of the climb.
There’s an intermediate sprint coming up at KM58, so Sagan will no doubt fancy that. Whether they can get rid of the sprinters altogether, considering that flat run-in, seems a much taller order.
It’s working… Nizzolo is dropped, and now Ewan…
Bora are on the front and are setting a strong tempo, looking to make it difficult here for the other sprinters.
Cosnefroy accelerates 2.3km from the summit and Schär swings over and calls it a day.
Cosnefroy and Schär hit the Côte de Luzençon with a lead of just 15 seconds. Cosnefroy will of course want to take the two KOM points at the top, but will he commit to a daylong break thereafter? There are more than 50km to the following cat-3 climb.
Lilian Calmejane is the Total rider stuck between break and bunch.
Schär makes it across to Cosnefroy as the road tilts downhill.
But now one of them, Michael Schar (CCC Team), goes again. Total Direct Energie respond – they look keener to go in the break today.
Those four are quickly caught by the bunch. They never looked too committed to that anyway.
And now we get a reaction, as four riders clip off the front. It’s far from an intense start.
No one’s tempted to join Cosnefroy.
No one attacks from the gun, but now mountains classification leader Cosnefroy is on the move.
Prudhomme rises through the sunroof and waves us underway
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is at the front of the bunch as they follow the race director’s car through this neutralised zone. The Belgian has become a bit of a cliche when it comes to talk of breakaways, but Lotto Soudal have Caleb Ewan for a sprint today and will prefer to set that up rather than seeing a breakaway go all the way today.
It’s an uphill start today, then a dip down, then straight into a cat-3 climb, the Côte de Luzencon (3.1km at 6.1%).
A run-down of today’s jerseys before we get underway
Yellow – Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Green – Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Polka-dots – Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale)
White – Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
We’re on the move – just rolling through the short neutralised section at the moment.
Two days ago, of course, we had no breakaway whatsoever, which Yoann Offredo seemed to take great offense at. Others reached for mitigating circumstances like the parcours, the wind, the difficulty of the stages either side, and the fact that even smaller teams have top sprinters and GC riders, but that wasn’t good enough for Yoann, who famously attacked solo from 200km on the 2018 Tour.
“It’s the Tour de France! It’s the biggest race in the world!” Offredo exclaimed on French TV. “We had no racing for more than three months – you have to be up for the fight.”
The riders have gathered on the start line. It wasn’t just Mitchelton-Scott on the rollers – plenty of teams were warming up this morning. That’s usually a sign we’re in for a fast start, with plenty of interest in a breakaway.
Some preview goodness from our friends at Procycling magazine
“At the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie rivers sits picturesque Millau, which will send off riders near the Millau Viaduct, the tallest cable-stayed road bridge in the world, towards a day over lots of rocky hills and ‘liquid’ hills, otherwise known as the wind.
“Three categorised climbs are positioned in the first 100km, with the category 3 Col de Peyronnenc offering the longest ascent at 14.5km. After the Côte de Paulhe, just 1.1km in length, there is another lumpy section then 44 kilometres of leveled-out pavement into the finish town of Lavaur.
“The Tour has visited Lavaur twice, in 2001 and 2011, and the score is 1-1 between the break and the bunch. In 2011 Mark Cavendish won the bunch sprint, but in 2001 a group of 25 contested the finish that was won by Rik Verbrugghe.”
Coronavirus talk dominated the build-up to this Tour de France, but we’ve not heard much of it since the race set out from Nice last weekend. Well, it has resurfaced after yesterday’s climb up the Col de la Lusette, where numerous riders felt there were too many fans, getting too close, with too few masks.
“I could smell the beer from someone’s mouth, so if they are infected, the riders riding next to them can also get infected,” Thomas De Gendt said.
#TDF2020 @tacx trainers before the stage…Expecting a fast start to stage 7? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/EEqXiyNnxkSeptember 4, 2020
In last night’s communiqué, the race organisers warned of gusts of 30-40km/h today. That looks like slightly wishful thinking, but most forecasts I’ve seen have it in the high 20s.
“I am probably the most nervous rider on the team this morning,” says Groupama-FDJ’s Stefan Kung.
That’s because he’s their big Swiss rouleur, whose main job is to protect Thibaut Pinot on the flat and in the wind. His nerves are understandable given we’re not too far at all from Albi, where Pinot lost a chunk of time in the crosswinds last year. He was in despair after that, and Kung will need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I’m Thibaut’s bodyguard, especially on a day like today,” Kung adds. “It’s very important to have a strong team around him, and my role is to make the decision of what to do and when.”
Want to know more about wind? My colleague and certified wind nerd Ed Pickering has done a thread.
Cycling and the wind. A thread.The Vent d’Autan is forecast to blow on the Tour today. The locals say that it’s a wind “qui rend fou”- which makes people go mad.It blows from the south east, in the opposite direction to the Tramontane, which blows from the north west.September 4, 2020
Before we get going, why not catch up on yesterday’s action. Report, results, photos all in the link below.
👋 Bonjour Millau 👋#TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/jwPCRpksdESeptember 4, 2020
The podium ceremony is well underway in Millau, and the riders will be rolling out at 13:25 local time, so in around half an hour. Christian Prudhomme will wave the stage underway some 10 minutes after that.
Here’s the stage profile. The wind will be coming from the side for most of the day, and the run down from the Col de Peyronnenc is where things could get interesting. The route changes direction at Castres, tracking west but slightly north, which would turn it into a more of a tail-crosswind. It will all depend on the strength of the wind later on, and whether we have the exposed roads needed to split the race into echelons. The riders will be on high alert for sure.
Hello there and welcome along to our live coverage of the Tour de France. It’s stage 7 today, and we have a stage that takes us closer to the Pyrenees this weekend. It’s lumpy in the first half, but the downhill and flat second half should lend itself to a bunch sprint. Hang on, though, this stage, running largely south west towards Toulouse, exposes itself to the local south-easterly Autan wind, which forecasts predict to be out in force this afternoon…