Gaviria triumphs again
We almost had a full podium, didn’t we? Fernando Gaviria’s Quickstep team provided a near-perfect readout for the Colombian sprinter, who repaid them with a lunge at the line that just gapped Peter Sagan (by the predicted nose) and a fading Andre Griepel, who went a tad early. Our third-place choice, Marcel Kittel finished fifth, with Dylan Groenewegen in fourth after clashing with Mark Cavendish and others in the run in.
The day was nearly stolen from the sprinters, though, as a four-man break was only caught a kilometre from the line, after 190-odd out front; Cofidis had two representatives in Dimitri Claeys and Anthony Perez (both from Cofidis), Direct Energie’s Jerome Cousin and Wanty-Group Gobert’s Guillaume Van Keirsbulck. They really made the sprint teams work for their chance, with a gap that was as big as seven minutes at one stage, but there was no way Bora and Quickstep were going to miss out. The four were helped by a big crash in the bunch, just inside 5km to go – Rigoberto Uran and Ilnur Zakarin were the only GC contenders caught out. Neither was hurt but Zakarin’s bike was a mess, and he finished nearly a minute down. Uran made it back to finish safely with the main field.
Greg van Avermaert will keep the Yellow Jersey for another day, while Sagan’s second keeps him in Green, for now, with a slender lead over Gaviria. White stays with Søren Kragh Andersen, and Dion Smith will spend another day in the Polka Dot fleece, as the leader of the best climber competition.
Wednesday’s stage is a 205km journey from Lorient to Quimper; another day for the fast men, but possibly a different sub-set as the route is decidedly rolling. There are three Cat3 climbs, and two Cat4, and an uphill finish to test tired legs.