Tour de France cycling 2021 - Stage 7 as it happened - Matej Mohoric claims victory on longest leg of the race
Bahrain Victorious' Matej Mohoric stormed to a first ever Tour De France victory at Stage 7 after navigating the longest stage in the race for over 20 years. The 249km ride from Verzon to Le Creusot with five lower-category climbs in a testing final third saw Mathieu Van der Poel retain the yellow jersey.
'Not just about Roglic and Pogacar' - Emotional Mohoric claims Tour de France Stage 7 win
Van der Poel will now enter a weekend in the Alps with the yellow jersey across his shoulders and Van Aert as his nearest challenger, 30 seconds behind. Kasper Asgreen, who led out Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Cavendish for the sprint points before trying his hand in the hills, moved up to third place on GC at 1’49” while Mohoric rose 29 places to fourth after his victory.
Slovenian national champion Mohoric is now 3’01” off the race summit and ahead of compatriot Pogacar, who slipped to fifth place at 3’43”. Another big winner in the GC battle was the Italian veteran Nibali, an active figure in the break before fading in the finale, who is up to sixth place at 4’12”.
Roglic, meanwhile, drops 23 places to 33rd some 9'11" down... ouch.
Roglic loses almost four minutes
The main pack came in around 5'15" down and here's Primoz Roglic coming home with Warren Barguil and Simon Geschke a whopping 9'03" down on his compatriot. So that's almost four minutes on his rivals for last year's runner up. Bad day in the office.
Carapaz caught, Roglic nowhere to be seen
A lot of effort for nothing in the end for Richard Carapaz, who is caught by the chasing pack just ahead of the line as world champion Julian Alaphilippe leads the field home. But there's no Primoz Roglic in this group - so it's a bittersweet day for Slovenia, with Mohoric taking the win, Pogacar battling all day, and Roglic losing a chunk of time.
Passionate ride by Van der Poel
Fourth place for the Dutch debutant ensures that he keeps the yellow jersey ahead of the Alps - and with a considerably larger buffer on everyone except Van Aert and Asgreen. He's slumped on the ground and looks completely spent after that effort.
Victory for Matej Mohoric!
The Slovenian naitonal champions wins the longest Tour stage in 21 years to complete his set after a quite monstrous performance for Bahrain-Victorious. And it's a second place for Jasper Stuyven, the Milan-Sanremo champion, who crosses the line 1'20" down for Trek-Segafredo. Behind, it's Magnus Cort who sprints for third in a group that includes both Van der Poel and Van Aert after they caught those riders ahead of them.
Mohoric knows the victory is his now as he comes under the flamme rouge and speaks into his radio. He's in tears after what he's been through this season - and tonight he has a polka dot jersey and the final piece of his Grand Tour jigsaw. Slovenia's not just about Roglic and Pogacar, eh?
6km to go: Mohoric completes KOM clean sweep
The Slovenian pockets the single point over the top of this final climb - so he's bagged a maximum 11pts to secure the polka dot jersey today. Can he add a stage win as well? It looks increasingly likely.
8km to go: WVA and MVDP attack!
The Belgian champion attacks and so the yellow jersey follows suit - of course he does! Van Aert must be concerned about Asgreen further up the road and so he has a dig on this final climb - and it's Van der Poel who goes with him. Wonderful to see this pair lighting up a Tour stage like this.
Asgreen rides in a group with Konrad, Cort, Van Moer and Bonnamour, with Stuyven somewhere up there too. They're 1'30" down on Mohoric and 30" clear of Van der Poel and Van Aert. The peloton is 5'30" down but trailing Carapaz, with Roglic off the back...
9km to go: Powless off the road!
Back in the main pack and Neilsen Powless of EF Education-Nippo makes a hash of a bend and rides over the edge and down the side into a bush. He's okay and back on his bike, but that was a small heart-in-mouth moment. Carapaz, meanwhile, continues his solo pursuit of some of those men up the road. He'll go back up the standings today after losing some ground in the TT.
10km to go: Asgreen ahead of Van der Poel
The Dane attacked after the summit to gap the yellow jersey as well as Van Aert, Nibali, Yates and a few others. He went with a few others but it's hard to say who because there are riders all over the road here. Mohoric, meanwhile, completes the descent and is now on the final climb of the day, the Cat.4 Cote de la Gourloye (2.5km at 5.3%). He has 1'20" over Konrad and so this victory should be his as long as he keeps it together.
13km to go: Carapaz attacks!
Hearing about Roglic's implosion, Richard Carapaz pushes on near the summit - the Ecuadorian passes Latour and opens up a gap ahead of the descent. A canny move from the Ineon Grenadier co-leader. Roglic will have a fierce battle now to fight back to the bunch.
16km to go: Roglic dropped!
Primoz Roglic has been distanced by the main pack - and the Slovenian has no Jumbo-Visma teammates with him. The effects of that crash are catching up with him. This could be a big turning point of the Tour... It came just as Pierre Latour attacked on the front.
18km to go: Mohoric goes over the top
The Slovenian champion pockets 5pts in the KOM competition which gives him the outright lead in the polka dot race. He also takes the bonus seconds over the special bonus sprint. His nearest challenger now is Konrad, who passed the others and is 55 seconds down and 20 seconds clear of the yellow jersey group, which also includes Houle, Kragh Andersen, Skujins and Bonnamour as well as the names I mentioned previously. The pack is still six minutes down.
19km to go: Mohoric soloes clear
Konrad now has a good gap on the yellow jersey group and has both Godon and Skujins in pursuit/ The leaders have completed the short downhill segment and are about to tackle the 19% section ahead of the summit. This could possibly sort out the wheat from the chaff.
And indeed it does: Mohoric drops both Stuyven and Van Moer on the ramp as he continues his ride towards the polka dot jersey and, possibly, a stage win. Konrad is 55 seconds down and he now has Cort in pursuit. Further back it's Van der Poel, Van Aert, Asgreen, Yates and Nibali - a stellar quintet - who lead the chase, 1'25" down.
22km to go: Main climb of the day
We're now onto the focal point of the day, the Tour's first ever ascent of the Cat.2 Signal d’Uchon (5.8km at 5.6%). Those stats are misleading because it hits high double-digit gradients near the top and after a zippy downhill segment. The three leaders now have 1'15" on the chasers - and there's an early attack behind from Patrick Konrad, the Austrian champion. They have caught that man Bonnamour, but Gilbert has been dropped along with Bakelants and some others.
25km to go: Quintana dropped from break
We're hearing that Nairo Quintana has been dropped from the peloton, which is a turn up for the books. He has said that he's not going for GC today so perhaps he's just giving himself a rest and some more leeway ahead of an assault on a stage win over the weekend in the Alps.
30km to go: Bonnamour makes a move
The Frenchman from B&B Hotels is trying to bridge over to the leaders but he's still over a minute back and only 20 seconds clear of the yellow jersey chase group, which includes: Van Aert, Nibali, Skujins, Asgreen, Garcia, Konrad (who put in a dig a bit earlier on), Laporte, Van der Poel, Cort, Kragh Andersen, Gilbert, Yates and Campenaerts (who was dropped from the leading quartet).
Another minute or so back is the second chase group, which includes Teunissen, Van Baarle, Erviti, Meurisse, Godon, Schar, Sweeny, Houle, Bakelants and Van Poppel. The pack, meanwhile, is still 6'40" back and it seems that Pogacar is down to just Rafal Majka when it comes to UAE teammates around him.
35km to go: Mohoric in polka dots!
It's Matej Mohoric who again takes maximum points - and those 2pts over the top of this climb put the Slovenian into the virtual polka dot jersey, level on points with Ide Schelling. Behind, there's a big shake up after Nibali accelerates in the yellow jersey break. And then, back in the pack, there's a touch of wheels and a crash moments after they swept up Cavendish. It was Pello Bilbao of Bahrain-Victorious and one of the Jumbo riders - nothing serious, but a set-back all the same.
39km to go: Time to climb
The leaders are onto the Cat.3 Cote de la Croix de la Liberation (4.7km at 5.3%). Almost instantly Van Baarle and Erviti have been dropped and the race is all over the road. Campenaerts is the first of the four leaders to be dropped.
42km to go: The shake-up continues
Approaching the next climb, the four leaders have 1'30" over the main break with Cavendish 5'15" back and the peloton at seven minutes. Philippe Gilbert will want to get involved soon: it's 10 years ago to the day since the Belgian took his only Tour stage win.
47km to go: Four clear now
Jasper Stuyven and fellow Belgian Victor Campenaerts have managed to bridge over to Mohoric and Van Moer and so we have four clear now with a gap of 1'10" over the rest of the break, which no longer includes Mark Cavendish after the green jersey knocked it off and dropped back. Pretty wise, that, given he's mopped up those green jersey points and will now be on Alpine survival duty over the weekend.
55km to go: Nibali back with break
It was just a leg-stretcher from the Shark of the Strait but that's brought the lead of the duo down to one minute. Meanwhile, Team TotalEnergies come to the front of the pack, which seems a bit pointless given they're not going to get close to winning the stage now - so they're just investing a lot of energy in the name of pride. The gap is 7'30". Cavendish, I should add, is still in this break after winning the intermediate sprint. What a Tour he's having.
63km to go: Shark attack!
Vincenzo Nibali is giving it a go on this descent - lovely to see! The Trek-Segafredo rider opens up a gap over his fellow escapees - although it looks like they're going to get back on soon. But it goes to show the Italian's desire to light the torch paper. He's 2:55 down on GC going into today's stage to he could well be in the top five or even top three tonight. Nibali, remember, hasn't won a race since stage 20 of the 2019 Tour - that's 706 days ago.
65km to go: Froome dropped?
Chris Froome seems to be struggling a little off the back of the peloton - either that or he's dropping back to his Israel Start-Up Nation car. The four-time champion's race got off to the worst possible start with that crash in the opening stage - coupled with teammate Michael Woods's time loss. Over seven minutes now for our two leaders...
70km to go: Mohoric takes KOM point
It's Matej Mohoric again who goes over the top of the Cat.4 Cote de Glux-en-Glenne in pole position ahead of Brent Van Moer, who is very much shaping up to be the new Thomas De Gendt. This is the second time we've seen him on the front of the race after he came close to causing an upset on Tuesday's stage to Fougeres. where Cavendish won. The Slovenian takes 1pts in his polka-dot tally and the duo has 1'10" over the other escapees. The UAE-led peloton is still 6'40" in arrears.
75km to go: UAE tapping out tempo
Tadej Pogacar's teammates are back on the front now leading the chase - not an ideal scenario for the defending champion ahead of a weekend in the Alps. Van Moer and Mohoric now have 45 seconds over the breakaway, who have 6'10" over the pack, as they continue on this uphill grind towards the foot of the next climb, which is a fourth-category test.
80km to go: Changing of the guard on front of peloton
Jumbo-Visma, Ineos Grenadiers and Movistar have come to the front of the peloton after the first climb, provoking a rise in tempo and a general sense that things are about to kick off behind. They still trail the bulk of the breakaway by six minutes, with Mohoric and Van Moer another 20 seconds further up the road.
87km to go: Mohoric takes KOM points
Mohoric, the Slovenian national champion, goes clear with Brent Van Moer near the summit before dropping the Belgian and taking 2pts on the line. The Belgian takes the second point on offer and this duo will now push on ahead of the break on this descent. It's great to see Mohoric back in action after that sickening crash he endured during the Giro, where he flipped over his handlebars and landed on his head at high speed.
90km to go: Cat.3 Cote de Chateau-Chinon
We're onto the first climb now which is 3.2km long at an average gradient of 5.3%. It will be interesting to see if Van der Poel - who is one point off the polka dot jersey - shows any interest here or if he's simply all-in for the yellow today. The gap back to the pack is 6'45".
95km to go: Guerreiro caught
After his brief Lachlan Morton impression, the Portuguese rider has been reabsorbed by the pack. He was tailed off at the feed zone and soon gave up the ghost. In his absence, his former breakaway companions have stretched out their lead to 6'20".
105km to go: Gap increases ahead of the hills
Poor Ruben Guerreiro - he's now 3'45" down after being dropped from the break earlier. The 28 leaders meanwhile have 5'50" over the peloton as they continue tapping out a tempo and combining well on these long, flat, straight but also quite rolling roads that head towards the hills. There will be 11 KOM jersey points up for grabs and so we may see a new man in polka dots today because Ide Schelling - who has just the one-point lead over Van der Poel in the KOM standings - isn't in this move.
113km to go: Split in break
With Guerreiro still off the back, Van der Poel puts in a big pull on the front and the yellow jersey manages to string out this 28-man break and then cause a split. Those tailed off manage to get back on but it's a reminder that there are a lot of passengers here and we will no doubt see a shake out soon.
120km to go: Guerreiro out the back
Those four chasers have managed to rejoin the peloton but Ruben Guerreiro - a winner of the polka dot jersey in the Giro in 2020 - is still battling to get back on. He dropped back to his EF team car at the wrong moment - just as Cav went deep to fight back with the others. It remains to be seen if the Portuguese can be part of this break again because he's losing sight of them fast. The latest check has him 30 seconds behind - and his head is dropping.
126km to go: Break breaking up
Cavendish, Van Baarle, Skujins Guerreiro and Godon appear to have been tailed off from the break on a uphill rise out of the feedzone. Either they were caught napping or that was intentional. For Cav, it may have been on purpose, but the others are digging in to fight back. They're 20 seconds down and start bickering among each other with Guerreiro and Van Baarle trading a few insults and gesticulations, Cav keeping out of it, and the other two going up the road. Guerreiro then signals his EF team car, prompting Cav to bridge over to the others with an unseated surge - which, in turn, sees the Portuguese dig deep.
Once the green jersey latches back onto the three others, he turns round and gives Guerreiro what for after the EF rider allowed the gap to open up - but he's nowhere to be seen. Crazy scenes off the back of the break - but it's all quite entertaining. Meanwhile, the bulk of the break is back to 4'55" over the pack.
133km to go: Cavendish wins intermediate sprint
Kasper Asgreen leads out teammate Mark Cavendish in Saint Benin-d'Azy and the Manxman duly delivers - holding off Boy van Poppel and Matej Mohoric (who does his best spoiling tactics for teammate Sonny Colbrelli) to pocket 20 points. That puts Cav 66 points clear of Jasper Philipsen in the green jerset standings. Who'd have predicted this before the race, eh?
Philippe Gilbert then comes to the front and ups the tempo. That's because the gap has dropped a shade to 4'15" and the Belgian will want to increase the tempo to ensure this 29-man move ditches some of the deadwood while keeps away from the peloton.
140km to go: Pogacar under the cosh
The white jersey of Tadej Pogacar started today's stage just eight seconds down on Mathieu van der Poel but he's now five minutes down on the virtual GC after this crazy start to the stage - and we're not even half way through yet. The gap is around the 4'50" mark for this 29-man move ahead of the intermediate sprint, where Mark Cavendish could stretch out his lead to 80 points in the green jersey battle.
Here's a wonderful photo of the break forming earlier in today's longest stage of the race...
Yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel on the attack as the breakaway forms in Stage 7 of the Tour de France 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
151km to go: 1,000 km now raced
The peloton has now covered a thousand klicks since leaving Brest on Saturday at the start of this Tour. What an amazing script we have followed since then - with today shaping up to quite possibly be the pick of the bunch. The stage has hit a bit of a lull now that the hierarchy has been established - but with so many big names in this move, it's going to be a fascinating final three and a half hours. Intermediate sprint coming up.
160km to go: Four minutes now
The gap continues to grow for the 29 leaders who are now around 25km from the intermediate sprint where Cavendish should extend his lead in the points classification. Cav always said he wanted to win a Tour stage from a breakaway - but given the terrain for the final two hours of racing today, he'll be hard pressed not getting swept up and spat out by the peloton before the finish. But let's see...
Meanwhile, there are so many permutations to consider - not least the eventuality of other teams coming to the front of the pack, at some point, not necessarily to reel in the break, but to apply more pressure on the white jersey, Tadej Pogacar, and his under-fire UAE team...
172km to go: Three minutes for leaders
What a joy to see Van der Poel (in yellow, no less) riding in a Tour break with Van Aert, Nibali and Cavendish (in green). This is the Tour that keeps on giving! The pack is now three minutes down with UAE calming down a little after going all-guns earlier. They don't want to burn all their matches now - so just as long as they can contain things, it won't be so bad. And there are those climbs coming up so anything can still happen on this stage.
185km to go: UAE panicking now
As the gap pushes out to two minutes there's an element of panic behind for UAE. None of these riders seem to be genuine threats to Pogacar winning a second Tour - but Nibali is a former winner and only 2:55 down on GC, and who knows how many minutes this huge and very strong break could take on these flat roads ahead of the hills later on in this extremely long stage.
192km to go: Over a minute now
Five teams have missed this move - UAE Team Emirates, Israel-Start Up-Nation, Groupama-FDJ, Arkea-Samsic and TotalEnergies - so Pogacar's team shouldn't be the only ones chasing. But because of the wide representation - and the outright favourite status of the Slovenian - it's going to be a long and hard day for UAE, who will be made to do most of the work. The gap has stretched to 1'20" now for the 29 leaders. And the riders covered a whopping 51.6km in the first hour today - which gives you an idea of how crazy the start has been.
200km to go: 29 leaders including Van der Poel
Right, here are the 29 riders in this break: Wout van Aert and Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Vincenzo Nibali, Toms Skujins and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Kasper Asgreen and Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Imanol Erviti and Ivan Garcia (Movistar), Jan Bakelants and Boy van Poppel (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Frank Bonnamour (B&B Hotels), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), Mathieu van der Poel and Xandro Meurisse (Alpecin-Fenix), Ruben Guerreiro and Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo), Dorion Godon and Michael Schar (Ag2R-Citroen), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Philippe Gilbert, Harry Sweeny and Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Hugo Houle (Astana-PremierTech) and Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos).
205km to go: UAE Team Emirates pulling
With Van der Poel and Van Aert - the two riders either side of Tadej Pogacar in the standings - in the move, it's UAE who are leading the chase at 30 seconds. I get why they're doing it, but I also don't understand. Neither VdP nor WvA are exactly a threat to Pogacar in the grand scheme of things - while the likes of Yates and Nibali aren't serious contenders for the yellow. If anything, it's Mark Cavendish who is pulling off a coup because he's in line to pick up the green jersey points at the intermediate sprint.
208km to go: Big split in peloton!
Around 25 riders have gone clear and this move has some top drawer talent with both the green jersey and yellow jersey involved! On top of Van der Poel and Cavendish, we have Van Aert (but not Alaphilippe), Vincenzo Nibali, Simon Yates, Milan-Sanremo winner Jasper Stuyven, Skujins, Kasper Asgreen... And the gap is almost 20 seconds.
215km to go: MVDP and WVA on the attack!
That's what we like to see... With Wout van Aert, the Belgian champion, pushing to get into a move, his big rival and fellow cyclo-cross star Mathieu van der Poel. the yellow jersey, is alert to the danger and up there in a flash. The two riders are separated by just 30 seconds in the general classification and so either of them could be in yellow tonight. All will depend on the make-up of a breakaway when it eventually forms.
And, as if on cue, the rainbow bands of Julian Alaphilippe comes up to join the party - no surprise there because he's just 48 seconds down on Van der Poel in fourth place. It's like the Tour of Flanders in France. Just without the cobbled bergs...
220km to go: Lively start continues
More and more attacks follow in succession. Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) had a go, then we saw the likes of Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) chomping at the bit. Jonas Rutsch put in another attempt for EF Education-Nippo while German veteran Tony Martin even looked to try his luck. But nothing’s going so far – which is just as well for Petr Vakoc of Alpecin-Fenix, who’s dropped a chain and needs some mechanical assistance off the back of the pack in Bourges.
230km to go: Asgreen hungry
After all that, we now have a solitary Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rider with a 100m gap on the pack, which suddenly seems entirely disinterested. It looks like Jonas Koch and they’re onto a sweeping exposed road traversing some whopping crop fields on the road towards the town of Bourges. A few have now zipped clear in pursuit – including the Belgian Brent Van Moer of Lotto Soudal, who is the first to reach Koch. Kasper Asgreen is the next – and he’s on a rampaging ride with Pedersen in his wheel. It comes to nought. But we do have a glimpse of that man Ide Schelling, the polka dot jersey, who is near the front as the peloton regroups and bunches up once again.
235km to go: Active start but nothing sticking
Magnus Cort and Victor Campenaerts now trying their luck with around a dozen trying to bridge over, including Ballerini again, who clearly wants to get in the mix today. Swiss champion Sylvan Dillier looks hungry but all this activity cancels everything out. “Active but ot overly fast,” says Brian Smith in the commentary box.
240km to go: Van Aert & Pedersen in the mix
One of the EF Education-Nippo riders – Jonas Rutsch – put in a big dig to go clear but he was given no rope and so his effort was snuffled out. Now the Belgian champion Wout van Aert has come to the front of the pack to restore some order for Jumbo-Visma ahead of another flurry of aborted moves. Hectic racing – got to love it. Mads Pedersen, the former world champion, is the latest rider to try his luck on what has been a very cagey affair so far.
249km to go: Stage 7 under way
There’s an attack from the outset from Belgian powerhouse Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) which is followed by a counter move behind. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is in a quartet trying to bridge over – and as a result, his presence (so often a golden ticket for the breakaway) has provoked a fierce battle behind.
De Gendt is with Davide Ballerini of QuickStep and Matej Mohoric of Bahrain-Victorious and a few others as they sweep up Campenaerts. But the peloton are breathing down their neck and so this one won’t be given any leeway. And, indeed, it’s all over at the 246km mark.
Riders primed and ready ahead of longest day
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the longest stage on this Tour – and, indeed, the longest stage of any Tour for 21 years. It’s a whopping 249km schlep from Verzon to Le Creuson, which should be enlivened by five lower-category climbs in the final third. The sun is out, Christian Prudhomme is masked up and standing out of the sunroof of his red Skoda, and the riders have pretty much completed the neutral zone under bright sunshine and a hazy blue sky.
STAGE 6 RECAP
Mark Cavendish is quite fond of Châteauroux. It was here in the sleepy birthtown of Gerard Depardieu where a fresh-faced Cavendish, aged 23, won his first ever Tour stage in 2008, and in Châteauroux again where he sprinted to his seventeenth triumph three years later in 2011.
It may have taken another decade, but the Manx Missile completed a hat-trick on Thursday with his latest win in the capital of the Indre department – his second of this Tour and the 32nd of his career.
Benefitting from a textbook leadout from his Deceuninck-QuickStep train, Cavendish powered past Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) on the home straight and kept France’s Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) at bay to write another chapter in one of sport’s most absorbing and astonishing comebacks in recent years.
Frenchman Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) completed the top five ahead of Dutchman Cees Bol (Team DSM), Belgian duo Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), the Australian Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and Denmark’s Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).
Successive sprint victories see Cavendish, 36, extend his lead over Philipsen in the green jersey standings to 46 points, with Bouhanni three points back in third. Philipsen’s teammate Mathieu van der Poel retained the yellow jersey after a GC stalemate following the shake-up witnessed from Wednesday’s time trial.
Dutch debutant Van der Poel still leads defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) by eight seconds on GC, with Van Aert third at 30 seconds, as the race hits the hills of the Morvan range on Friday ahead of a weekend in the Alps.
'Textbook sprinting' Brian Smith's analysis of Cavendish's Tour de France stage 6 win