Mark Cavendish sprinted to his 26th Tour de France victory on stage 7, ending a two-year drought. For Etixx-QuickStep it is a third stage win in this year's Tour and comes after a bittersweet stage 6, which was won by Zdenek Stybar but which saw yellow jersey holder Tony Martin crash out with a broken collarbone.
Cavendish started his sprint late and came from behind André Greipel, who had to settle for second after winning the two previous sprints in the race on stages 2 and 5.
Whereas the flat stage revolved mostly around the fight for the yellow jersey, there was a fourth-category climb early on the parcours and Daniel Teklehaimanot got himself in the break to extend his spell in the polka-dot jersey. After being the race leader on the road but not wearing yellow, Sky's Chris Froome will be back in the maillot jaune tomorrow.
Patrick Lefevre, Etixx-QuickStep manager
"Last night it was a mixture of happiness and sorrow. Today, it's only happiness. It's in no way a revenge. Only the media talked about revenge. Mark never had a revenge to take. He was always there. And we always knew we would be around him to support him until Paris."
"For Mark, it's also a relief because he felt bad about what happened in Zealand and the criticism he received," Lefevre added, alluding to the events of stage 2, where Cavendish went too early and was called out for allowing Fabian Cancellara to take the yellow jersey instead of Tony Martin thanks to bonus seconds for third.
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep)
"I wanted it. I had a feeling about the sprint when I was lying in my room with my wife and daughter. I just had this feeling. I was relaxed and knew that I would be okay. The team was motivated, I could see that with the way [Michal] Golas was pulling all day. We had some near misses but they kept their faith in me. This is incredible after Stybi's win and Tony’s loss. To come out to do it like we did and to win is amazing. This is for Tony, too."
André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)
"Of course I would like to win once again. The team was superb again and Sieberg guided me perfectly in the last two kilometres. The sprint was initially smooth, but in the end it was steeper than I thought. Thus, I was a little dead and Cav came over the top of me. His timing was better. I have to be satisfied with second place and I am in this situation too [leading the points classification].
"It seems like sprint finishes are more and more tricky with more and more riders trying to take part. My team did a good job bringing me to the front with 2km to go. In the final sprint, the road was going up and I was dying a bit, that's why I didn't win. The next bunch sprint will be in Paris but by then I'll have other duties like supporting Tony Gallopin and going for some intermediate sprints."
Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka)
"It was a great moment to start in the jersey this morning. We obviously had a plan with the early categorised climb today so that's why our team was in front to keep things under control before the start. It was good though that I could get away early and then won the point. I wanted to keep going and wasn't worried about saving power for the next weeks because I am feeling strong. Every day we can spend in the jersey helps our 5000 bikes campaign so I will work for it each stage."
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
"We just left it to the sprinters' teams. We knew it was the last sprinter's stage for a long time and knew they'd be keen, so we just left it to them. We didn't have to do a thing, we just had to try and hide, really, and look after the legs for tomorrow and the team time trial. [Tomorrow] it's up and down, left and right, hard, heavy roads like in the UK. We'll have to keep riding like we have been, at the front. Having the [yellow] jersey gives you that little extra motivation and respect."