It was another nervous day in the Tour de France; on paper, a predictable procession, with an early break, obviously with a French rider in it, the inevitable catch, and a mad bunch sprint. But the scriptwriters added some intrigue with punctures and crashes delaying some, and and worse.
The early attack came from Sylvain Chavanel, riding his 18th and final Tour de France. The Direct Energie rider took Michael Gogl (Trek Segafredo) and Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) with him from the gun. They stayed together until the KOM point, where Smith took the points, and the overall lead, and dropped back to the bunch, followed soon after by Gogl. This left Chavanel with a 145km time trial to the finish, if he was going to take a daring fourth career stage win in the Tour… it was not to be, as the Quickstep/DimensionData/Bora-led peloton made the catch 13km out.
The sprinters certainly didn’t have it all their way, though. Kittel punctured 30km from the end, as did Demare with just 8 to get back in, but they both did, and the peloton screamed into the tight 90-degree right hander two kilometres from the finish… it was Daryl Impey ho hit the deck first, hard, bringing down the bulk of the fast men with him after being impeded by another rider. The biggest casualty (time-wise, not injury-wise) was the Gaviria, in the Yellow Jersey, who immediately knew his time in the golden fleece was done, as the winner would surely leap frog him with time bonuses.
Just under 20 riders remained at the front of the race, including André Greipel and European champion Alexander Kristoff, but with several teammates remaining , Bora-Hansgrohe had the numerical advantage and delivered, with Sagan enjoying a strong leadout before surfing Demur’s wheel (John Degenkolb made a valiant effort at Cavendishing into the barriers going for the same wheel) and then surging to seal the victory. Sonny Colbrelli came from further back to challenge in the closing metres, but it wasn’t enough. Tour de France stage win number ten for Sagan, and the Yellow Jersey going into the TTT… not a bad day in the saddle.
By all accounts, Daryl Impey is ok – battered and bruised, but ready to fight on. Lawson Craddock also made it to the finish, and lies stone last, the Lantern Rouge, over eight minutes down after just two days. Less fortunate was Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo) who was the first man to abandon the Tour, climbing off with severe abdominal after 90km. He was followed, shortly thereafter, by Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez, who crashed and broke his elbow and four ribs. He remounted, but only momentarily, before abandoning. This. Is. Not. Soccer. II.