10/07/15 - 11:50
Livarot - Fougères
Tour de France • Stage7

Livarot - Fougères

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Peter Sagan picked up 4 bonus seconds to move into second place on GC, 11 seconds down on leader Chris Froome - who tomorrow will be able to wear the yellow jersey after the maillot jaune took a one-day hiatus from the race.


That was Cavendish's first win on the Tour since stage 13 in 2013.


Cavendish wins his 26th stage of the Tour ahead of Greipel, Sagan, Degenkolb and Kristoff. It was a messy sprint by all of them - but Etixx won't care: that's their third win of the race.


CAVENDISH DOES IT! The Manxman beat Greipel and Sagan by half a bike, nipping on the inside to take his first victory of the race.


Very narrow road in this last kilometre... Kristoff is taking it up - they're all there...


Boasson Hagen is here for MTN too... we're under the kite.


Big splits after a roundabout - just 30 odd riders in this main pack now.


It's very strung out now we're in the final 3km and FDJ have now taken it up for Arnaud Demare.


Giant are doing the driving on the front - they have five men including Degenkolb. Katusha are preparing Kristoff, who has Sagan on his wheel.


Vermote is back - it must have been a flat tyre. Be interesting to see if he can get back up - he's trying. Kwiatkowski has gone to the front now for Etixx. Cav will also have Stybar and Trentin, as well as Renshaw.


Giant-Alpecin and Lotto-Soudal prepare their trains for Degenkolb and Greipel. Sagan, of course, will have to do it on his own, while Cavendish will get a launch from Renshaw. Don't forget about Bryan Coquard too - he looked good yesterday for Europcar.


Etixx-QuickStep's Julien Vermote has been dropped by the pack - either a mechanical or he inhaled a load of smoke from a road-side flare. Some fans can be right cretins. So, Cavendish down one man...


Live data shows that Nicolas Roche is riding at 70km/h at the moment - which is about right, because they're on a sweeping downhill drag.


Tinkoff-Saxo were right on the front but have dropped back a little. Meanwhile, Sky, Movistar and BMC drive the pace after a right right-hander has strung out the peloton.


Yes, the two remaining escapees are caught, and it's Luis Angel Mate who is the last to be passed and so he will be the most combative rider today. Right, now it's time to think about that bunch sprint...


The carrots are cooked for the two leaders...


Delaplace and Durasek have been swallowed up by the pack and it's Mate who's driving the pace. Neither rider wants to concede the combativity award today - although Feillu looks very much on the rivet.


Delaplace and Durasek call it a day so we have Feillu and Mate out in front. Still 15 seconds now.


Thomas is now back with the peloton. Feillu and Delaplace still drive the pace of the break - they're determined to at least enter Brittany out ahead of the peloton.


Just 15 seconds for the escapees.


Puncture for Sky's Geraint Thomas - and that's a set-back for the Welshman. With the peloton travelling as such a pace, he'll have his work cut out to rejoin the pack before the finish. No Sky team-mates will drop back - they have to be there for Froome, even though Thomas is also in the top ten on GC.


Sky have formed a train on the left of the road alongside BMC. Tinkoff are tucked in next to the Lotto-Soudal boys of Andre Greiepl, one of the favourites for the win.


Those four escapees are battling out for the combativity prize today - seeing that we're soon going to enter Brittany, you'd imagine one of the Bretagne-Seche guys will be told in no uncertain terms to do their team and region proud. Just 20 seconds now.


Brice Feillu, the rangy Bretagne-Seche climber, is next to be dropped - just three men out in front now, with 35 seconds over the pack. Scrap that: Feillu has managed to fight back on. But they will all be caught quite soon.


Daniel Teklehaimanot has sat up and will be the first of the escapees to be caught by the pack. He may as well have done that earlier today after picking up that solitary point over the Cat.4 climb - but Africa's first rider to wear the polka-dot jersey wanted to do it proud all day, and can you blame him?


This time yesterday he was doing a pull on the front of the pack in the yellow jersey, today he's in a hospital bed in Hamburg watching his team-mates in TV. Can they deliver Mark Cavendish to the line today?


In the Eurosport commentary box we have the following predictions for today's stage: Carlton Kirby has gone for Mark Cavendish, Sean Kelly for Alexander Kristoff and Jonathan Harris-Bass for Peter Sagan. Which means I'll have to go for that man Andre Greipel, the jolly green giant. Who do you think will win?


There's a bit of a cross-tailwind which will help the peloton more than the escapees. The gap is still 45 seconds, with Movistar edging ahead. We spoke to Lotto-Soudal manager Marc Sergeant this morning: "It could be the last chance before Paris so we want a sprint. The Tour is never easy, even if it's a sprint stage. We lost Greg Henderson today, which is a pity for him and the team, because he's really important. But if you've seen the strength of Andre Greipel in the last sprints I''m quite confident that he can do it again."


Katusha have now sent a man to the front of the pack - and that has angered the QuickStep rider who was setting the tempo. They have an animated discussion - it seems like the QuickStepper wants the Katushan to slow things down or risk reeling in the break too soon. He gesticulates up the road, there's a fair bit of debate, and then Alexander Kristoff's team-mate slinks back into the pack.


The pack is toying with those five escapees, who have been left dangling out in front. The road has got pretty rolling now as they pass through a series of animated towns in the Mayenne. Some riders are fighting to hold onto the back of the pack. The gap is down to 40 seconds with Lotto-Soudal and Etixx on the front. BMC, Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky - whose riders are in the current top three - have edged forward too.


The gap is back up to 1:20 for the five leaders, although the pace looks to be speeding up in the pack as Etixx-QuickStep come to the front to lend a hand alongside Lotto-Soudal.


Did you know: Honore de Balzac wrote one of his early novels, Les Chouans, after visiting Fougeres and touring Brittany. The imposing medieval castle in Fougeres has 13 towers.


History: The La Vie Claire team of Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond won a colossal 73km team time trial on the only previous finish in Fougeres in 1985. In 2013 absent German Marcel Kittel won In Tours after stage 12 started in Fougeres.


Ivan Basso is grappling with one of Tinkoff-Saxo's water bottle holders. He'll get it over his shoulders soon. It's worth reminding those of you who may have only just turned up - Alberto Contador crashed today in the neutral zone, but he remounted pretty quickly and without any drama.


The gap is down to just one minute now for the escapees - it's a matter of when, not if, although the peloton will not want to catch them too soon, so it wouldn't be a surprise if they don't edge back out ahead.


One of the breakaway riders, Anthony Delaplace, is from this neck of the woods. "I know the route very well”, he told local newspaper Ouest-France today. "It's not far from Caen where I live. They aren't easy. Obviously, I want to show off. As we arrive in Brittany, as a local team we want to celebrate the event. I won't give up a chance to break away." Well, the Bretagne-Séché Environnement has lived up to his promise...


Fellow Frenchmen Tony Gallopin and Thibaut Pinot are shooting the breeze in the peloton. They've enjoyed contrasting fortunes so far, with Gallopin currently fourth in the overall standings just 26 seconds down on Chris Froome, and Pinot in 29th position and 6:18 down. Third on the podium in Paris last July, Pinot has it all to do in the mountains.


Of course, it's no surprise seeing two Bretagne-Séché Environnement riders in there today - they are the local Pro Continental team, and this is an ideal opportunity to help out the local sponsors. The race will enter Brittany soon after the riders pass through this stretch of road in the Mayenne, having left Normandie a little earlier.


A reminder of the five leaders, who broke clear of the pack at kilometre-zero this morning: Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka). They have 1:55 over the pack. It's one of those days - but without anyone in yellow, perhaps we'll have no pile-up en route to the finish.


It's still Lotto-Soudal leading the chase with that man Thomas De Gendt setting the tempo. The Belgian squad is minus one man today folllowing the withdrawal of Greg Henderson, who still hopes his expertise can be of use for his team-mates today in their bid to deliver Andre Greipel to the line...


Tour tipple: The centre of Calvados production is close to the start town of Livarot so it would be amiss not to fill up your bidons with some of the local cider brandy.


We're approaching the feed zone - which is the pefect time for today's...

Plat du Jour: Some think it smells of faecal farm matter, others more generously say it has a barnyard nose - one thing's for sure, the soft, pungent, orange-rinded Livarot cheese splits opinions.


Nairo Quinatana makes a V for victory sign to a passing motorbike camera. The Colombian is wearing a gauze on his right elbow after his fall yesterday in the crash that ensued after Tony Martin's tumble. Last night, Movistar posted a picture of his wounds on Twitter...


The aerial copter cams just caught a prancing deer on camera as it bounded through a field of wheat - very cute. Meanwhile, back with the cycling and it's still Lotto-Soudal controlling the peloton in pursuit of these five escapees, who have 2:15 to play with.


Sagan, it's worth adding, is the race's white jersey for the best rider under 26 years of age. The Slovakian is currently 52 seconds ahead of local Breton lad Warren Barguil and 1:41 ahead of Nairo Quintana. Once the mountains come along, you'd expect both those riders to leapfrog ahead of Peter...


Peter Sagan spoke to Eurosport this morning: "Yesterday was a good finish for me but again it was a different story. But today is a flat stage and I will for sure be fighting for position to take points for the green jersey and hopefully for the win. It's hard sprinting against the pure sprinters but I'll try my best." He'll be extra motivated by the presence of his dad at Fougeres...


I have to say, it's nice to see Daniel Taklehaimanot resisting the temptation of going full polka-dot today - staying classy with those black MTN shorts.


The break - which includes two Bretagne-Seche riders but no Europcar men - still plough on with a 2:25 lead over the pack. There is not a cloud in the sky today, which is nice. But the riders are currently on a dual carriageway, which is less nice.


Giant-Alpecin have put on a bit train for Degenkolb at the intermediate sprint - and it's Degenkolb who takes the points for sixth ahead of Sagan and Greipel, with Cavendish forced wide by Degenkolb's straying lead-out man. That means Sagan trails Greipel by just two points now on the green jersey standings.


The break was led through the intermediate sprint at Argentan by Luis Angel Mate with an advantage of 2:30 over the pack. We can expect a bit more action when the peloton passes through imminently...


Thibaut Pinot is back with the medical car receiving some attention. He's being dragged along the convertible while the doctor unwraps a pill and places it in his mouth... The Frenchman came down in that crash on slippery roads two days ago and also suffered a minor meltdown over the cobbles. He's almost seven minutes down on GC after a tough opening week, so the Frenchman will have to be fairly active in the mountains.


History: The race leaves Normandy for Brittany today. The fierce rivalry between Normandy and Brittany hit an all-time low in 1066 when Conan II of Brittany was found dead after donning a pair of poisoned riding gloves. Duke William of Normandy (the soon-to-be Conqueror) was thought to be responsible - just months before he crossed the channel and fired an arrow into the eye of Harold in Hastings.


It's a slight uphill finish - but nothing like yesterday. It raises about 20m in the final half kilometre - so whoever wins will have to bide his time and wait until the right moment, otherwise he will run out of steam. Sagan has been the quickest over the line in many sprints - but has come too late. He needs to get going a little earlier and he may ditch being a bridesmaid and finally get spliced on this year's Tour.


Eurosport expert Juan Antonio Flecha thinks that is anyone can surprise the sprinters today it's Ramunas Navardauskas of Cannondale-Garmin. Should it come down to the expected bunch sprint, "you have to talk about Greipel and Sagan, who seem to be the fastest. But you have to remember Mark Cavendish, who has 25 victories and knows what it's like to win."


Chris Froome was praised by many for not wearing the yellow jersey today. He told letour.fr that he didn't to wear it when he was only second on GC after the stage in Le Havre. Indeed, while Froome may have chosen not to go yellow, the rules actually dictate that no-one would be in yellow if Martin did not take to the start. As Dave Brailsford explained to Eurosport this morning: "The UCI got in touch with us and the rules are pretty clear. Tony got over the line and so he finished the stage and so there is no yellow jersey until the end of today's stage."


The average pace for the first hour today was 40.3km/h and so it's a lot quicker from yesterday's stage, which finished around half an hour slower than the slowest predicted pace. The gap is down to three minutes for the three leaders.


The other big news from yesterday's stage concerning that dramatic crash in the finale was the misunderstanding that saw Chris Froome marching onto the Astana team bus to parley with Italian rival Chris Froome, who bizarrely held the Sky rider responsible for the incident. They quickly sorted things out, with Nibali later telling the media: "It's all ok - we're not footballers, we're cyclists." What a legend.


Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-QuickStep control the pace of the peloton. Both team's lost riders yesterday in Greg Henderson and Tony Martin; both teams will be looking for a sprint win today from Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish respectively. The gap is 3:50 for the five leaders.


It's by no means the first time there has been no yellow jersey in the peloton today. Most recently, in 2007, Alberto Contador refused to wear the maillot jaune when race leader Michael Rasmussen was pulled by his own team. The Spaniard waited until the end of the subsequent stage before donning the leader's jersey. In 1991 Rolf Sorensen broke a collarbone en route to finishing a stage. He toyed with signing in the next day, but didn't - ahead of a stage that saw Thierry Marie move into the lead after a long solo break. Also, Eddy Merckx famously refused to wear yellow the day after Luis Ocana crashed out on the descent of the Col de Mente in 1971.


Andre Greipel saw his lead in the green jersey competition slashed by Mr Consistent Peter Sagan yesterday. After his latest second place (that's three on this Tour and 14 since 2012) Sagan is now just three points behind Greipel's tally of 161 points. John Degenkolb is currently third on 120. Today has a maximum of 70 points up for grabs so the jersey is very much up for grabs...


The five escapees have a gap of 2:25 over the bunch - and it will be interesting to see how much leeway they are given, what with today's intermediate sprint coming much earlier than usual.


The Eritrean rider, of course, became the first African to don the Tour's famous polka-dot jersey yesterday after picking up maximum points over all three Cat.4 climbs from the break. Teklehaimanot can now add another point to his tally, taking him to four - which is double the amound Joaquim Rodriguez picked up on the Mur de Huy earlier in the week. That will keep the MTN-Qhubeka rider in the red spots for at least another day.


The reason for the early break is that early Cat.4 climb of the Cote de Canapville, whose summit Teklehaimanot has just crossed in pole position.


Two non-starters today: Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Greg Henderson (Lotto-Soudal). Martin suffered a compound fracture of his left collarbone in that dramatic fall near the finish yesterday to become the second race leader to crash out of the race after Fabian Cancellara in stage three. As for Henderson, the Kiwi veteran was riding with two broken ribs and enough was clearly enough...


Five riders pinged off the front from the gun: Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka).


It's a sunny day in north west France with the temperature currently 22 degrees Celsius.


They're off! The riders roll out of Livarot to get this 190.5km stage under way...


There was a crash in the neutral zone of today's stage involving Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo). Both riders were back on their bikes quickly and without too much ado.


Chris Froome today confirmed that he will not wear the yellow jersey today out of a mark of respect for Tony Martin, who completed yesterday's stage despite breaking his collarbone and therefore was - at least until this morning's sign-on - the official leader of the race. Team Sky's Froome leads Tejay Van Garderen of BMC by 13 seconds and Slovakia's Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 15 seconds on GC.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage seven of the Tour de France - a largely flat ride through Britanny from Livarot to Fougeres, and a last chance for the sprinters to nick a stage ahead of the Pyrenees.