The day after Slovenia took the presidency of the council of the European Union, Matej Mohoric claimed his first stage win of the Tour de France at Le Creusot while Tadej Pogacar saved his day after being put in difficulty early in the race by a big breakaway group comprising Mathieu van der Poel who defended his yellow jersey with a brave heart. On the other hand, Primoz Roglic lost contact with the top guns. It’s a Grand Tour trilogy completed by Matej Mohoric after he won in Cuenca at La Vuelta 2017 and Gualdo Tadino at the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
28 escapees, including the yellow jersey
177 riders took the start of stage 7 in Vierzon at 11.13. Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Nexthash) was the first on the offensive right after the flag off. The first half and hour was contested at 55km/h despite a slightly head wind as attacks kept going on. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was the most active. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) reacted to hint that he wouldn’t let his arch-rival go. The fight led to the formation of a 29-man front group at km 40: van Aert, Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Vincenzo Nibali, Toms Skujins, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Kasper Asgreen, Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Imanol Erviti, Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), van der Poel, Xandro Meurisse (Alpecin-Fenix), Ruben Guerreiro, Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo), Dorian Godon, Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citröen), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Philippe Gilbert, Harry Sweeny, Brent van Moer (Lotto-Soudal), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Hugo Houle (Astana-PremierTech), Campenaerts (Qhubeka-NextHash), Jan Bakelants, Boy van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels-KTM).
Mohoric and Van Moer away with 88km to go
UAE Team Emirates was prompt to take the lead of the peloton. Only TotalEnergies among the other four teams who weren’t represented in the breakaway put one rider (Jérémy Cabot) in the chase but the deficit kept growing slowly but surely. Mohoric and Van Moer sped up in the first climb of the day, the côte de Château-Chinon (km 161.5) where the peloton was timed with a deficit of 6’50’’ [maximum time gap: 7’30’’ at the 50km to go mark]. The duo forged on and got reinforced by Stuyven and Campenaerts with 46km to go. The yellow jersey group was reduced to ten riders in the côte de la Libération whereas Campenaerts let Mohoric, Van Moer and Stuyven go. Bonnamour rode in between but was brought back 23km before the end.
Mohoric wins, Pogacar saves his day, Roglic loses
Mohoric rode away on the way solo to Signal d’Uchon 19km before the end. Only Stuyven managed to not get caught by the yellow jersey group that arrived reduced at Le Creusot. Carapaz had attacked from the main peloton in the hardest climb of the day, looking at making it up for the time lost to Tadej Pogacar in the time trial but he was swallowed on the finishing line. Primoz Roglic suffered from his crash early in the Tour and lost more time (3’30’’) in this very demanding stage that is set to affect the riders on the eve of the Alpine weekend.