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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the podium as the overall race leader
Sicilian expects attacks from Albert Contador
Tour de France race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) survived the late scrimmage during the final kilometres of stage 7 from Épernay to Nancy, finishing sixteenth in the same time as winner Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma - QuickStep).
During the final kilometers, Nibali moved to the front while Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) were on the attack. He had no ambition to take the stage win but wanted to avoid trouble, and he made it through the challenging first week unscathed and in the yellow jersey.
"After Sagan and Van Avermaet went for it, the big question was keeping things under control. It was a very fast descent. That's why I went on the front because I wanted to avoid risks. There were lots of crashes today. The finale was a bit tough and we knew that Sagan would want to win, but in fact it's another Italian who won. I'm pleased for someone like Trentin. It's a sign we've got a lot of riders coming through," Nibali commented on the stage victory from his young compatriot.
The next three days the Tour de France will travel through the Vosges mountains, starting with the stage from Tomblain to Gérardmer on Saturday. Nibali admitted that he hadn't prepared for these stages in the same way he did for the cobbles or the high mountain stages. "I don't know the Vosges climbs, I know the top climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees though," Nibali said.
While the roads ahead are unknown to Nibali, he is expecting a lot of attacks through the hills before the race reaches the Alps. He has considered rival Alberto Contador's top form during the previous stages and is expecting the Spaniard to use it to his advantage. "Alberto and the others will attack, I know. It will be a very nervous race. There could be a breakaway early on, but we'll try and keep things under control to the end, then we'll see what happens. It's difficult to make predictions."
Nibali leads the general classification by two seconds over his teammate Jakob Fuglsang. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is currently sitting in third place, 44 seconds back. Michael Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – QuickStep) is the next strong overall contender in fourth place at 50 seconds back while Alberto Contador is distanced by 2:37minutes in fifteenth place.