13/07/18 - 11:20
Fougères - Chartres
Tour de France • Stage7

Fougères - Chartres

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Confirmation of today's top 10 as Groenewegen opens up his account and Van Avermaet doubles his lead (to six seconds) at the top of the GC.


It looks like Arnaud Demare and Christophe Laporte completed the top five with John Degenkolb in the mix and Mark Cavendish back in 10th perhaps.


It's the first win of the race for LottoNL-Jumbo's Groenewegen, who wins ahead of Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan.


Victory for Dylan Groenewegen! The Dutchman had way too much power and puts a finger to his lips as he crosses the line to silence his critics...


Gaviria is launched through but he has Groenewegen, Kristoff and Sagan on his wheel...


Quick-Step and Groupama suddenly all over it...


Gaviria has fought back and has Sagan on his wheel. Demare and Cavendish near the front too...


The turn and chicane opens it all out and Cofidis have two on the front with Laporte being led out nicely. And Gaviria is back!


Cofidis are now pushing on for Laporte ahead of the turn...


That nasty turn is coming up. We're on the sweeping downhill.


Gaviria nowhere to be seen so he must have had a problem. Bahrain and Katusha finally appear...


Sky, Bora., Movistar and Dimension Data now on the front with Lotto Soudal still there - and here come LottoNL-Jumbo.


We're hearing that Gaviria has been caught out - either mechanical or crash...


Lotto Soudal are on the front as the peloton strings out through a series of roundabouts and pinchpoints.


Quick-Step and LottoNL-Jumbo keeping quiet so far.


Cavendish has a dedicated train of four Dimension Data riders - could this be his day and a 31st win on the Tour?


Now it's getting hectic as Groupama, Astana, LottoNL-Jumbo and Dimension Data pile towards the front.


The peloton negotiates the first of a series of roundabouts without too much bunnyhopping needed.


The riders using the entire width of the road as they ride towards Chartres for this latest sprint showdown. Jay Thomson coming up now for Dimension Data team-mate Mark Cavendish.


Still a battle of attrition out there with Lotto Soudal's Thomas De Gendt leading teh way and Groupama-FDJ making their move up the left.


It's still an extremely sedate pace for a race entering its business end. I should stress that they're 20 minutes behind the slowest schedule on the stage time table - that's how relaxed it's been today.


Last chance saloon for Cavendish today? Greipel has been knocking on the door; Demare and Groenewegen need a result. But surely one of Gaviria and Sagan are favourites to complete their Tour hat-tricks?


The calm before the storm... Movistar and Astana have come up to the front now, as have Lotto Soudal who will be working for their man Greipel, who didn't win a stage on last year's Tour for the first time since 2011. Bahrain Merida's Sonny Colbrelli is lurking. He's twice finished behind Sagan in this race as his search for a maiden Tour stage win continues...


Indeed not. It's Greg van Avermaet who actually zips clear to take the sprint and three bonus seconds to increase his lead over Thomas to six seconds in the GC.


The pace is up ahead of the bonus sprint. Remember, if Geraint Thomas wins this sprint and Greg van Avermaet doesn't finish in the top three then the Welshman will draw level with the Belgian at the top of the standings. But that won't happen.


Today's finish is quite technical and tricky. It involves numerous roundabouts into Chartres then a downhill drag which is followed by a tight corner and then a slightly uphill drag to the line over the final 500m. It's ripe for incident and crashes.


It's all over for Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic) after his brief foray off the front. He's the third solo attack of the day after Degand and Offredo.


So, who'll be in the mix for this win? Gaviria and Sagan will battle to be first to a hat-trick of wins but the likes of Demare, Groenewegen, Greipel, Cavendish, Kittel, Kristoff, Laporte, Colbrelli, Degenkolb and Boudat will have hopes to pull something off.


We spoke to Marcel Kittel this morning. The German will hope to improve on his third place in stage one and fifth place in stage four. The Katusha-Alpecin rider said: "I think I'm doing all right. It was probably good to have this painful stage 5 where everyone suffered. Yesterday I felt ok. I'm trying to go into this long stage with a good mindset. We want to make a sprint at the end. There's going to be an uphill before the last 100 or 200 metres which will be flat so it will be a challenge to be there in the front. Quick-Step have seven guys to make it work for Fernando Gaviria. No other team has that. They're super strong - as they showed yesterday in the crosswinds. I think they are setting the standard in the Tour and we have to be in the right moment."


The gap is down to one minute for Laurent Pichon.


We spoke to Peter Sagan this morning about his relationship with the green jersey. "It's the second most important jersey in the Tour and with my characteristics I cannot go for the yellow so I go for green," he said. Asked what the recipe for success was, he said: "To be consistent. I twice won the green jersey without winning stages." On Eric Zabel's record, he said: "Erik Zabel was a really good rider and it would be nice to join him with six wins." And finally, asked to choose between the green jersey of the world champion's rainbow jersey he admitted: "The world champion."


The GC riders seem to be on red alert as Sky, Movistar, BMC, Sunweb, Mitchelton-Scott and, er, Direct Energie's Sylvain Chavanel, pile to the front. Pichon's lead is back up to 1'30" after a general easing up in the pack. The next flashpoint may well be the bonus sprint with 30km remaining.


Despite Kristoff's efforts, the green jersey competition is really a two horse race. With those intermediate sprint points factored in, Sagan leads Gaviria by 214 points to 173 points.


Just 40 seconds now for Pichon, who rides with a banana in his jersey pocket. He'll need to eat that - and be Bananaman - is he wants any joy in this stage.


Pichon wins the intermediate sprint but all the action is taking place behind where Gaviria takes the points for second place ahead of Sagan and Kristoff in the green jersey amuse bouche.


Just over a minute now for Pichon, who keeps looking over his shoulders on this long, straight road. He's approaching the sprint now. Behind, the pace has slowed again after that initial flurry in the crosswinds.


The roads are rolling and exposed - and all of a sudden we have Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe teams drilling it on the front of the peloton, perhaps trying to cause another split.


Laurent Pichon's gap is up to two minutes but on these rolling roads ahead of the intermediate sprint he looks to be feeling the pinch.



The gap is up to 1'30" for Laurent Pichon, whose onto a hiding to nothing but making the most of it.


We have another plucky French attacker on the go! It's Laurent Pichon of Fortuneo-Samsic. He was on the offensive yesterday and is having another pop today - good for him, someone needed to do it.


With the pace having slowed again, it's time to catch up with some chateaux...


That's it for Yoann Offredo who, with a little disgust, is swallowed up by the peloton with still more than two hours of riding to go. The question is whether anyone will counter attack - perhaps before or after the intermediate sprint in 25-odd kilometres' time.


It's starting to get back together as Dan Martin rejoins the peloton followed by numerous little splinter chase groups. But the upshot of all this is that Yoann Offredo's time out ahead is practically over: he now only has 20 seconds.


Dan Martin, yesterday's winner, has been caught out as well. Some big name riders meanwhile are helping out on the front of the leading pack - including Porte and Valverde.


The two chasing groups have merged together but the gap is 40 seconds between the two groups. Mark Cavendish is one of the big name riders to be caught out.


Yes, we have splits in the peloton on this long, straight exposed section with a tail crosswind. Trek-Segafredo and Movistar have joined the party - and all of a sudden we have three groups on the road...


The gap is suddenly down to 3'30" and that's because the pace is suddenly shot up thanks to an injection of pace from Ag2R-La Mondiale.


Here's Nico Edet chatting to the cameraman during his jolly up the road...


Meanwhile, Nicolas Edet has been allowed to ride clear of the peloton on the climb. That's because the Cofidis rider is a local lad and he's got friends and family to greet. It's that kind of stage.


Offredo takes the point over the summit of the climb.


Offredo is on the only categorised climb of the day, the Cat.4 Cote du Buisson de Perseigne (1.5km at 3.9%). It's wholly irrelevant and will make no difference in the KOM standings.


There have been some discussions between lone leader Offredo and his Wanty-Groupe Gobert directeur sportif. The Frenchman clearly doesn't fancy another 100 clicks of this - but he's been instructed that he must stay out ahead. He's not so pleased because he knows that he's suited to the Roubaix stage on Sunday and he's using up valuable reserves of energy today by pedalling out there alone.


Offredo is passing through the town of Alencon, where 'Big' Miguel Indurain brokethrough with a victory in the individual time trial in 1991.


This interminable stage is not even half-way through. We have the solitary Cat.4 climb coming up but that will be it until the intermediate sprint, the bonus sprint and the finale.


The peloton edge through the feed zone and perform a game of musette roulette. And how about this for a stat: the French are currently experiencing their longest ever drought without a yellow jersey...


Offredo is currently hugging the top tube on a zippy downhill stretch of road. His lead - which peaked at 9'13" (the highest of any break so far in this year's Tour) - is now down to 6'33". Meanwhile, at the back of the peloton there are four EF Education First-Drapax riders taking it easy, notably Pierre Rolland who is talking to the camera man.


Quick-Step Floors will be happy that they're not having to do all the work for a change. They have the ubiquitous Tim Declercq near the front but Lotto Soudal's Jelle Vanendert and LottoNL-Jumbo's Antwan Tolhoek are helping out, and FDJ - working for Arnaud Demare - have been more active than usual, too. The gap is seven minutes now for Offredo.


Our man Matt Stephens is going a great job with his daily video diaries from the Tour. Here's his latest offering from yesterday's finale at Mur-de-Bretagne.


Antwan Tolhoek is on the front of the pack now doing some tempo for LottoNL-Jumbo. We haven't seen much of the young Dutchman so far in the race - his role will be more prominent in the mountains as a lieutenant for Roglic and Kruijswijk. He's making his debut in the Tour after a promising Vuelta last year. Today his team will hope to propel Dylan Groenewegen to the win.


The presence of the team of the sprinters on the front of the pack has seen Yoann Offredo's lead slashed to 7'50". Meanwhile, Richie Porte and his BMC team-mates are eating and refueling.


A huge nine minutes now for Offredo - who needs a few more and he'll be in the virtual yellow jersey. Lotto Soudal, FDJ, Quick-Step and Ag2R-La Mondiale have come to the front of the pack to help regulate the chase.


In spite of a strong headwind, Dan Martin's win yesterday set a new record on the climb at Mur-de-Bretagne. That said, there are only two other Tour comparisons to be made. He did go early and sustain that pace for the entire final kilometre, so it's no surprise he was manage to bag the Strava segment...


A great photo from yesterday's stage when a hay bale display on the side of the road apparently caught fire...


Back to the 'racing' today and Yoann Offredo now has eight minutes over the soft-pedalling peloton. We're passing through Marcel Proust territory. In search of lost time, indeed...


Yes, Bardet was also forced to stop with his mechanical but did so a few kilometres later and just ahead of the final climb. The Frenchman swapped bikes with team-mate Tony Gallopin which meant he didn't lose as much time waiting for his team car - but he then struggled on the climb and eventually lost 31 seconds. Whether his problems came down to having the wrong bike or being genuinely shanked, who knows. But apparently when news filtered through, Ag2R-La Mondiale told Pierre Latour to attack in a bid to salvage something from the stage. Latour ended up second, while the last winner on Mur-de-Bretagne, Alexis Vuillermoz, reportedly didn't hear orders to slow and help his leader Bardet...


With Andersen in mind, it's a good opportunity to look back over Tom Dumoulin's tricky finale yesterday. The Dutchman needed a new wheel with 6km remaining and then had to frantically chase back on before tackling the final climb well down on his GC rivals. He crossed the line 53 seconds down and was then docked a further 20 seconds after the race jury decided that he had benefited from a long draft behind his team car. It later emerged that Dumoulin has broken a spoke in a little collision with Frenchman Romain Bardet, who suffered his own problems in the finale.


In the final jersey competition to catch up on, the Dane Soren Kragh Andersen still leads the youth standings but his grip on the white jersey took a knock yesterday after he was forced back to help out his Sunweb team leader Tom Dumoulin on the final climb at Mur-de-Bretagne. Andersen's lead was slashed to 27 seconds by Egan Bernal, the Colombian Tour debutant from Team Sky, with Pierre Latour (who came second behind winner Dan Martin) in third at 2'17".


The gap hits five minutes for Yoann Offredo, who picked the short straw and is being forced to ride this one on his own out ahead of the peloton. Still, there are worse ways of spending the day: the sun is out, so are the fans, and there's been a succession of handsome towns for him to take in. What's not to like?


There's just the one KOM point up for grabs today so that means Tom Skujins (Trek Segafredo) will enjoy another day in the polka dots tomorrow - provided he can finish today's stage. The Latvian leads the climbers' classification on 6pts with his nearest rivals on 4pts.


Offredo's gap is more than three minutes now as the our lone leader passes through the pretty town of Mayenne, which includes a nasty ramp into the centre square. The fans are out in their droves.


With just one rider up the road that will add more intensity to the intermediate sprint when it comes along at 62km from the finish. After all, today is a very important day for the battle for green - and Fernado Gaviria will be looking to slash Peter Sagan's lead in that competition as much as possible today. Both riders have won two stages each so far but Sagan's consistency sees him lead the green jersey competition with 199 points with the Colombian on 156 points. Alexander Kristoff is a distant third at 88 points.


Offredo, probably under team orders, has managed to build up a lead of two minutes on the pack. No one is interested today because it's 99.9% likely to end in a bunch sprint in Chartres.


ATTACK: Yoann Offredo decides to have another pop! The Frenchman from Wanty-Groupe Gobert looks more committed this time - although he's found no reaction from the peloton so may have to do this one alone.


Blimey, there are still two-hundred kilometres of this one... while things are quiet, a quick reminder of who leads the race. Greg van Avermaet is in yellow with a three-second gap over Geraint Thomas, five seconds on his team-mate Tejay Van Garderen, six seconds on Julian Alaphilippe and 12 seconds on Philippe Gilbert.


And that brief flurry of entertainment - which was instigated by Oli Naesen - is over after the 10 leaders are reeled in. We're back to square one now - that and a very slow-rolling peloton.


The 10 leaders are Oliver Naesen and Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Arthur Vichot (Groupama-FDJ), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Yves Lampaert (Quick Step), Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo), Julien Vermote (Dimension Data), Edward Theuns (Sunweb) and Simon Gerrans (BMC). Such is the calibre of the break that LottoNL-Jumbo are now really committed in the chase.


LottoNL-Jumbo have come to the front now to lead the chase. They have no one involved in this break and will have high hopes for Dylan Groenewegen today, even if the Dutch youngster has yet to hit his stride in this year's Tour. The gap is down to just 10 seconds now.


That move came from nothing and all of a sudden the pace is high as the pack chases down this 10-man group. Interestingly, many of the teams of the sprinters are involved in this move - a suggestion that they're calling the bluff. The gap is only 20 seconds though with some of the riders unsure if they should be committing or sitting back.


Finally some movement! And this looks promising - we have a break that's formed and it includes some really strong riders with the likes of Yves Lampaert, Lukas Postlberger, Julien Vermote, Simon Gerrans, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, Oliver Naesen, Edward Teuns all involved...


Degand has sat up in protest. Wanty maybe the minnows but they're not going to be exploited like this.


This is like the Sunday club run. Even Degand, the leader, is only riding at 27km/h at the moment. He keeps looking over his shoulder in the hope he'll see the peloton. No such luck! He looks livid.


Lotto Soudal duo Marcel Seiberg and Thomas De Gendt are on the front - they will be hoping to set up Andre Greipel for a win today. Although at this rate, that won't be for another eight hours. The gap is down to 50 seconds for Degand, who is doing his best to be caught, but is struggling to go any slower than the peloton.


The pace is painstakingly slow here. Thomas Degand, our lone leader, is hardly committed and only has a one-minute gap over a peloton which is soft-pedalling. This is rather farcical.


Degand is already on the radio - presumably asking whether he has to persist with this. Remember, the same plight was experienced by his team-mate Guillaume van Keirsbulck last season when he was the only escapee in that long stage to Vittel.


Thomas Degand (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) attacks - perhaps through boredom than anything else. He'd have hoped that someone would have joined him but that's not the case and the Belgian has a long day ahead in store...


Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) made a tentative effort to zip clear but on turning round and seeing no one following, the Frenchman decided better of it. No movement so far.


And they're off! Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and this interminable stage is under way.


Here's the official profile for today's stage. Could we see a lucky break on the longest stage of the race? It falls on Friday 13th and takes the riders through Balzac territory en route to another probable sprint showdown...


Yesterday, Ireland’s Dan Martin produced a superb attack up the punchy closing climb at Mur-de-Bretagne to win Stage 6 as Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet held onto the yellow jersey and both Tom Dumoulin and Romain Bardet lost time. Runner-up when the Tour last visited the climb dubbed The Breton Alpe d’Huez” in 2015, UAE Team Emirates rider Martin made his move early, dancing clear of the field ahead of the kilometre-to-go banner before holding off a strong challenge from Frenchman Pierre Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale) to claim only the second Tour stage win of his career and the first since 2013. Read the full report below...


Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of the longest stage of the race - a draining 231km schlep through the rolling countryside of north-west from Fougeres to Chartres.