Tour de France 2013

June 29 - July 21, 2013, Porto-Vecchio, France, Road

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Barry Ryan

Stage 7 of the Tour de France, 205.5 kilometres from Montpellier to Albi.

  1. 12:18:44 CEST

    Stage 7 of the Tour de France is a delicately poised one, a transitional stage that might yet fall into the lap of the sprinters. After heading inland from Montpellier, the race tackles some rugged terrain across the Montagne Noire, the lower tip of the Massif Central, and the second category climbs of the Col des 13 Vents and the Col de la Croix de Mounis are fertile terrain for a break to sally clear. The Côte de la Quintante (Category 3) and Côte de Teillet (Category 4) will help their chances of staying clear, but it’s a long, fast, downhill run into the finish at Albi after that. With the Pyrenees looming at the weekend, the sprinters’ teams will surely be motivated to bring it all back together.

  2. 12:20:47 CEST

    As you can see here, Barry Hoban fancies the break's chances of staying clear, whereas in his video preview, Magnus Backstedt reckons the sprinters will have the upper hand in Albi.

  3. 205.5km remaining from 205.5km

    12:23:45 CEST

    • Yellow Jersey

    The flag has just dropped and stage 7 is underway. Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) rolls out of Montpellier in the yellow jersey, the first South African to do so. In the overall standings, he holds a three-second lead over Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), with Simon Gerrans a further two seconds back in third.

    General classification after stage 6:

    1 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 22:18:17
    2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:03
    3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:05
    4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
    5 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:06
    6 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
    7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:08
    8 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
    9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:14
    10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff


  4. 12:26:46 CEST

    • Astana

    We had 191 finishers yesterday but unfortunately, only 190 riders have left Montpellier this afternoon. Janez Brajkovic sustained a knee injury when he crashed in the finale yesterday and the Slovenian is the third Astana rider to abandon the race in the opening week, after Andrey Kashechkin and Fredrik Kessiakoff.

  5. 202km remaining from 205.5km

    12:29:55 CEST

    • Attack

    It's been a rapid start to proceedings, with Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) the first man to try his luck off the front of the peloton. He was joined in his effort by five others, including Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) and Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), but they have been swept back up by the speeding bunch. It's going to be a searingly tough opening few kilometres and the tired legs in the peloton will be praying that a break goes clear sooner rather than later.

  6. 12:35:14 CEST

    The 41-year-old Voigt made his Tour debut in 1998 and was on the attack as early as stage one that year, when he crossed the Wicklow Gap at the head of the race in a break that also featured Jacky Durand and Stefano Zanini, although Tom Steels would win the day in the bunch sprint in Dublin's Phoenix Park. 15 years on, he spoke to Cyclingnewsabout the pressures of the Tour's opening week.

  7. 195km remaining from 205.5km

    12:36:49 CEST

    As if on cue, Voigt is off the front of the peloton once again, and again he is joined by Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who was also part of the short-lived Vanmarcke move. The pair has a lead of ten seconds over the bunch, which is strung out in one long line.

  8. 12:38:21 CEST

    • Crash reports that there has been a crash in the main peloton, but so far we don't have any information on the identity of the fallers. In the confusion, however, Voigt and Kadri are stretching out their advantage at the head of the race.

  9. 12:40:26 CEST

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) and Dani Moreno (Katusha) were among those caught up in the crash but all three are back on their bikes and rejoining the peloton. Meanwhile, Voigt and Kadri have a lead of 1:10.

  10. 188km remaining from 205.5km

    12:44:26 CEST

    Kadri and Voigt have stretched their lead out to 2:10 after passing through Montbazin and it appears that the pace in the main peloton has abated for now.

  11. 12:48:29 CEST

    Blel Kadri is riding his third Tour de France and the aggressive Frenchman was already on the attack on stage 2 in Corsica. He showed his class earlier in the season with a fine victory at Roma Maxima, the race formerly known as the Giro del Lazio, which he won after spending all of 127km off the front. Second-placed Filippo Pozzato, of course, briefly thought that he had claimed the win on the Via dei Fori Imperiali only to sheepishly realise that Kadri had already crossed the line almost a minute before him.

  12. 181km remaining from 205.5km

    12:50:43 CEST

    Kadri and Voigt now have 3:30 in hand on the peloton and it seems as if there will be a period of detente, at least until the category two Col des 13 Vents (6.9km at 5.6%), which is still around 50km away.

  13. 12:53:32 CEST

    • Garmin-Sharp

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) has abandoned the final Tour de France of his career. The American was a faller on the road to Marseille on Wednesday, which exacerbated old injuries to his collarbone and back, and today's crash has brought the curtain down on his Tour.

  14. 178km remaining from 205.5km

    12:57:05 CEST

    Kadri and Voigt's advantage is growing rapidly. After only 27km of racing, they have 6:10 in hand on the peloton. Voigt is the better-placed of the two on general classification, but given that he lies 98th at 14:38, Orica-GreenEdge are in no hurry to shut this move down.

  15. 12:58:42 CEST

    • Yellow Jersey

    Daryl Impey was a popular recipient of the maillot jaune in Montpellier yesterday, six years after Robbie Hunter had become the first African Tour de France stage winner in the very same city. Here's Impey's reaction to an historic day for cycling in Africa.

  16. 170km remaining from 205.5km

    13:09:13 CEST

    The gap seems to have stabilised around the 6:30 mark for now as Voigt and Kadri head towards Pézenas, at which point they will swing right and head towards more rugged terrain.


  17. 165km remaining from 205.5km

    13:18:44 CEST

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep have massed their troops on the front of the peloton and they will ensure that the break's lead doesn't stretch much beyond the current six minutes. Mark Cavendish is clearly recovered from his crash yesterday and smarting from his 4th place finish behind his old rival Andre Greipel in the sprint in Montpellier. Win or lose - and with 24 stage wins and counting from 6 participations, it's more win than lose - Cavendish always provides entertainment at the Tour de France.

  18. 13:24:56 CEST

    Cavendish has a vocal supporter in André Darrigade, the great sprinter of the Tour's golden era of the 1950s and 60s. Darrigade generously labelled Cavendish as the greatest sprinter of all-time when the Manxman overtook his tally of 22 stages (compiled in the days before lead-out trains as we know them today) last year, and the two met on the Tour earlier this week.

    "Just honoured to have a joint interview alongside the legend Mr. Andre Darrigade. Absolute gentleman. None of this "in my day" trumping," Cavendish tweeted afterwards, and he might have special motivation to win in Albi today. The race first visited the town in 1953 and the winner was one A. Darrigade, who claimed the first of his 22 Tour stage wins.

  19. 160km remaining from 205.5km

    13:26:37 CEST

    Voigt and Kadri have covered 43.2km in the first hour of racing today and they maintain a lead of 5:45 over the peloton, which is still being led by Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

  20. 13:31:12 CEST

    Today's stage sees a semblance of calm after yesterday's Mistral alert. There is barely a puff of wind, the skies are blue, the temperature is 28 degrees and the finale - a dead straight final kilometre - is ideal for a bunch finish should it all come back together before Albi.

  21. 148km remaining from 205.5km

    13:44:06 CEST

    Kadri and Voigt are continuing to collaborate smoothly at the head of the race, with 5:40 in hand over the peloton.

  22. 13:50:18 CEST

    • Garmin-Sharp

    Garmin-Sharp doctor Prentice Steffen has confirmed that Christian Vande Velde's abandon was due to the cumulative toll of two crashes in three days.

    "Christian suffered his second crash in three days today and unforrtunately his injuries have forced him out of the Tour," Steffen said. "The multiple contusions and abrasions he suffered in today's crash, compounded with the injuries he sustained on Stage 5 which included a blood clot in his neck muscle, a loosened screw in his clavicle plate and upper back injuries, made it impossible for him to finish today's stage. We'll examine him closely tonight and continue to evaluate his injuries."

  23. 13:55:57 CEST

    Garmin-Sharp doctor Prentice Steffen has confirmed that Christian Vande Velde's abandon was due to the cumulative toll of two crashes in three days.

    "Christian suffered his second crash in three days today and unfortunately his injuries have forced him out of the Tour," Steffen said. "The multiple contusions and abrasions he suffered in today's crash, compounded with the injuries he sustained on Stage 5 which included a blood clot in his neck muscle, a loosened screw in his clavicle plate and upper back injuries, made it impossible for him to finish today's stage. We'll examine him closely tonight and continue to evaluate his injuries."

  24. 14:00:49 CEST

    Not many Tour de France absentees can make headlines in July but Fabian Cancellara isn't any old Tour de France absentee. The Swiss rider decided to skip the Tour this year as he builds towards the world championships in Florence in September, and RadioShack-Leopard manager

    Luca Guercilena told RSI last night that Cancellara is also likely to attempt the world hour record within the next twelve months

    . The attempt would take place on the velodrome in Grenchen, either after the Worlds or after next year's Paris-Roubaix.

  25. 14:06:24 CEST

    Twenty years ago, of course, the Tour and the Hour Record intersected quite closely. Bored by Miguel Indurain's inevitable march to a third consecutive Tour, L'Equipe pointedly put Graeme Obree's record-breaking 51.596km effort in Hamar, Norway on the front page, and buried news of Olaf Ludwig's stage win in Montpellier.

    A week later, Chris Boardman beat Obree's record and did so on Bordeaux's Lac velodrome on the very same day that the Tour visited town. Djamolidine Abdoujaparov was the stage winner, incidentally.




  26. 14:09:12 CEST

    • RadioShack-Nissan's 2012 Jersey

    Another (former) RadioShack absentee making headlines is Frank Schleck, who yesterday was told that the team would not be re-hiring him when his doping ban expires on July 14. Schleck tested positive for Xipamide during last year's Tour.

  27. 131km remaining from 205.5km

    14:12:52 CEST

    Voigt and Kadri's advantage has been whittled down to 4:45 as they approach the foot of the Col des 13 Vents.

  28. 128.5km remaining from 205.5km

    14:18:31 CEST

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol all have riders towards the front of the bunch, and they're happy to tap out a steady tempo on the Col des 13 Vents rather than scatter the peloton to the, er, 13 winds.

  29. 14:22:46 CEST

    Kadri and Voigt have dovetailed their efforts very neatly thus far and they are carefully matching their rhythm on this climb. Kadri, who raced for Albi VS before turning professional, is doutbless familiar with the roads this afternoon. They have 4:15 over the peloton with one kilometre to go to the summit of the Col des 13 Vents.

  30. 125.5km remaining from 205.5km

    14:26:19 CEST

    Kadri leads Voigt over the top of the Col des 13 Vents and collects the two points on offer for the first man to the summit.

  31. 14:29:37 CEST

    Our Belgian correspondent Brecht Decaluwé has pointed out sharply that Voigt's teammate and stage 2 winner Jan Bakelants had ear-marked today's stage earlier in the week. He will have to hope that a team takes it upon itself to try and distance the pure sprinters on the Col de la Croix de Mounis.

  32. 14:31:22 CEST

    A delegation from Orica-GreenEdge lead the bunch over the top of the 13 Vents, while Philippe Gilbert (BMC) chasing back on stopping to switch bikes.

  33. 119km remaining from 205.5km

    14:38:34 CEST

    This short, technical descent is followed shortly afterwards by the Col de la Croix de Mounis (94.5km). The second category climb is 6.7km long and has an average gradient of 6.5%. There certainly is scope to try and break things up on the climb, but with the finish still some 111km from the summit, it's possible that teams might be dissuaded from forcing the issue.

  34. 117km remaining from 205.5km

    14:40:23 CEST

    Voigt and Kadri have reached the lower slopes of the Col de la Croix de Mounis with a buffer of 4:15. The 41-year-old Voigt sits on the front and grinds out the tempo.

  35. 14:42:48 CEST

    • Cannondale

    To quote the great George Hamilton, danger here for the pure sprinters. Cannondale are moving to the front of the peloton in a bid to up the pace.

  36. 14:44:57 CEST

    Mark Cavendish's Omega Pharma-QuickStep team appear unmoved, and Tony Martin leads a string of riders alongside the Cannondale train. The combined efforts and Cannondale and Omega Pharma-QuickStep has shaved another chunk of time off Kadri and Voigt's lead and the gap is now down to 3:40.

  37. 115km remaining from 205.5km

    14:48:06 CEST

    Cannondale's forcing has strung out the peloton and gaps are beginning to open at the back. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) were among those caught out but they are negotiating their way back up to the front half of the peloton.

  38. 14:50:22 CEST

    Cavendish has been dropped by the front of the peloton as Cannondale pile on the pressure up front. He is in a 15-man group with three Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates for company and he'll face a frantic chase back on over the top.

  39. 113km remaining from 205.5km

    14:52:04 CEST

    The Cannondale surge has also slashed Voigt and Kadri's lead to 2:30. According to the on-screen graphics, Cavendish is already a minute behind the front of the peloton.

  40. 14:54:22 CEST

    Sagan is sitting in third wheel and looking very comfortable indeed. He's certainly well-placed to claim the lion's share of the points at the intermediate sprint at Viane Pierre Segade (135km) given that Andre Greipel has also been dropped.

  41. 14:55:59 CEST

    Cavendish is still looking relatively comfortable on the climb but he is 1:40 behind the Sagan group with two kilometres of climbing still to come. The yellow jersey Daryl Impey is still safely in the Cannondale-led group of 40 or so riders but his Orica-GreenEdge teammate Matt Goss has also been dropped.

  42. 111km remaining from 205.5km

    14:57:27 CEST

    • Red Polka Dot Jersey

    Blel Kadri leads over the summit of the climb, while the polka dot-bedecked Pierre Rolland (Europcar) has leapt out of the bunch in search of the mountains points for third place over the top.

  43. 14:59:52 CEST

    Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) followed Rolland's move and nipped past him at the top for third, meaning that Kadri holds the provisional lead in the mountains competition, with 12 points to Rolland's 11.

  44. 15:02:30 CEST

    Mark Cavendish crosses the summit of the climb 5 minutes down on the two leaders and all of three minutes down on Peter Sagan and Daryl Impey. Cannondale are still drilling on the front of that group and it's going to be exceedingly difficult for Cavendish to get back on now.

  45. 107km remaining from 205.5km

    15:04:30 CEST

    Cavendish's chase is not going to be helped by the terrain here. Rather than descending immediately after the climb, the parcours proceeds along a ridge for the next 25km or so, and Cannondale are showing no signs of relenting on the front.

  46. 15:08:35 CEST

    Cannondale's pace-setting has shorn the front of the peloton of its pure sprinters. Greipel and Marcel Kittel are 3 minutes down on the break, Cavendish is 5 minutes back, and Matt Goss has also been distanced.

  47. 103km remaining from 205.5km

    15:10:44 CEST

    The state of the nation with 103km to go. Kadri and Voigt have 1:20 on the peloton, which contains Sagan, the yellow jersey Impey and all of the main overall contenders. Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel are just under 3 minutes down, while Mark Cavendish is 4:15 back.

  48. 15:12:46 CEST

    Four Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders are driving on the front of the Cavendish group as they charge through the feed station but they remain three minutes down on Sagan et al. They are closing the gap on the Greipel group, however, and that should add firepower to their pursuit.

  49. 100km remaining from 205.5km

    15:14:24 CEST

    Kadri and Voigt now have just 40 seconds in hand on the Cannondale-led peloton, who should close the gap before the intermediate sprint in 35 kilometres' time.

  50. 15:16:16 CEST

    Voigt casts a couple of forlorn looks over his shoulder. The team cars have been called away from behind the break, and the two escapees are grimly aware of the impending arrival of the lime green cavalry.

  51. 97km remaining from 205.5km

    15:19:28 CEST

    Voigt and Kadri are swallowed up by the Cannondale-led peloton, marshalled by Peter Sagan.

  52. 15:21:07 CEST

    The sizeable Greipel group is 1:30 down on the front of the race but Cavendish is still 2:50 behind, and Cannondale's pace is showing no signs of slackening.

  53. 93km remaining from 205.5km

    15:23:57 CEST

    Cavendish has Tony Martin, Jerome Pineau and Gert Steegmans for company, and they are leading the chase on his behalf, but the Manxman remains 2:25 down on the Cannondale-led peloton.

  54. 15:25:28 CEST

    Orica-GreenEdge have numbers around Daryl Impey in the front group, and there is plenty of Sky black in there too, including Chris Froome and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

  55. 91km remaining from 205.5km

    15:27:46 CEST

    The Greipel and Cavendish groups have merged and they lie 2:48 down on the front of the race. The two rivals Cavendish and Greipel will find common cause as they try to get back to the peloton, but it's going to be a big ask.

  56. 15:28:55 CEST

    Argos-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-QuickStep are spearheading the chase and have chipped a handful of seconds off the deficit, but Cannondale are continuing to set a fierce tempo up ahead.

  57. 15:30:35 CEST

    Cannondale will certainly continue drilling as far as the intermediate sprint in 18km, but they will surely need some help, perhaps from Orica-GreenEdge, to keep up this tempo beyond that.

  58. 83km remaining from 205.5km

    15:38:27 CEST

    The stage is now poised as a long pursuit match over sinuous, rolling roads and melting tarmac, with the Lotto Belisol, Argos-Shimano and Omega Pharma-QuickStep chasing a very resolute Cannondale squad. The gap is 2:40 and it's worth noting that whatever the outcome today, there are going to be a lot of very tired riders saddling up for the weekend's double-header in the Pyrenees. For the second consecutive day, the pace has been relentless.

  59. 15:46:27 CEST

    • Lampre Merida

    Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) is the second abandon of the day, after Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp). Malori has been suffering from a sciatic nerve problem and has climbed off.

  60. 73km remaining from 205.5km

    15:48:13 CEST

    The gap has steadied at 2:30 between the two groups, and Cannondale have now had the peloton lined out for the best part of an hour as we approach the day's intermediate sprint.

  61. 15:49:23 CEST

    It's hard to imagine anyone is going to dare even try to out-sprint Sagan here...

  62. 70.5km remaining from 205.5km

    15:52:30 CEST

    Sagan duly picks up 20 points at the intermediate sprint in Vian Pierre Segade, comfortably beating Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM). That's a huge gain in his quest to retain the green jersey, considering that Greipel, Cavendish and Kittel picked up no points in that sprint. Sagan's virtual lead in the points classification is now 49 points over Greipel.

  63. 15:53:56 CEST

    Cannondale relent once they pass through the intermediate sprint and Orica-GreenEdge take over at the front of the bunch with Gerrans and Simon Clarke riding in support of Daryl Impey, and the pace drops noticeably as they do so.

  64. 15:54:27 CEST

    The Greipel-Cavendish group comes through the sprint 2:30 down on the peloton.

  65. 68km remaining from 205.5km

    15:56:08 CEST

    • Attack

    As soon as the pace drops on the front of the peloton, Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) fulfills the Oracle of Bruges Brecht Decaluwé's prediction and attacks.

  66. 15:57:26 CEST

    Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Juan José Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi) bridge across to Bakelants, and the trio has a lead of 15 seconds over the peloton, which is again being led by Cannondale.

  67. 16:00:40 CEST

    The determined Bakelants leads Oroz and Gautier as they press on towards the foot of the day's third climb, the category three Côte de la Quintaine (6.5km at 3%). They have 30 seconds in hand on the peloton, while the Greipel-Cavendish group is 2:30 behind.

  68. 61km remaining from 205.5km

    16:01:45 CEST

    Lotto-Belisol are desperately trying to inject some urgency into the chase in the Cavendish-Greipel group, but they're still in hostile terrain as they approach the foot of the climb.

  69. 16:02:53 CEST

    The lively Bakelants is helping to drag the break's lead out towards 40 seconds, but he is also a possible hindrance to their progress as he lies just 33 seconds down on Daryl Impey and his presence here is likely to stoke the interest of Orica-GreenEdge.

  70. 16:03:56 CEST

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) is sitting comfortably in the peloton. The yellow jersey Daryl Impey, meanwhile, has locked himself on to Peter Sagan's rear wheel as Cannondale set the tempo on the climb.

  71. 60km remaining from 205.5km

    16:06:05 CEST

    Gautier, Bakelants and Oroz are working well on the climb and have stretched their lead out to 43 seconds, but Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge will surely start to wind up the pace again once they crest the summit.

  72. 56.5km remaining from 205.5km

    16:10:53 CEST

    Bakelants drives the pace and leads the break over the summit of the climb. The Belgian has been very impressive in the opening week of this Tour de France.

  73. 16:13:30 CEST

    Cannondale continue to set the tempo as they crest the summit 50 seconds down on the leading trio. The men in green have done a huge amount of work over the past 50 kilometres or so, with virtually no help. Can they continue to control the race all the way to Albi? They're going to face a volley of attacks in the run-in.

  74. 16:16:02 CEST

    The three leaders have stretched their lead out to 55 seconds and Jan Bakelants is the maillot jaune virtuel. Cannondale will expect some help from Orica-GreenEdge sooner rather than later.

  75. 50km remaining from 205.5km

    16:19:56 CEST

    Lotto-Belisol are leading the pursuit in the Cavendish-Greipel group but they remain locked at two minutes behind the Cannondale-led peloton.

  76. 16:21:39 CEST

    Orica-GreenEdge have now begun to commit men to the pursuit of the three escapees, and that could prove fatal to Greipel and Cavendish's lingering hopes of getting back on.

  77. 16:27:54 CEST

    The average speed so far is 39.3kph, but notes that the average speed for the fourth hour of racing over very some rugged terrain was a searing 46.1kph.

  78. 38km remaining from 205.5km

    16:32:02 CEST

    Lotto-Belisol have sat up and the Greipel-Cavendish group will not manage to make it back up to main peloton. Greipel acknowledges his teammates' efforts but they were simply left with too much to do after Cannondale's ferocious bout of forcing on the Croix de Mounis.

  79. 36km remaining from 205.5km

    16:35:12 CEST

    Cannondale have pegged the leading trio's gap back to 33 seconds as they approach the day's final obstacle, the 4th category Cote de Teillet.

  80. 16:36:41 CEST

    There's plenty of encouragement for Cyril Gautier on the climb but Jan Bakelants is the man driving the pace, and his pressing has stretched their lead back out to 45 seconds.

  81. 34.5km remaining from 205.5km

    16:37:46 CEST

    • Red Polka Dot Jersey

    Bakelants picks up the lone point on offer at the summit, but earlier escapee Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) will carry the polka dot jersey into the Pyrenees tomorrow.

  82. 16:38:54 CEST

    Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) lends a hand to Cannondale's efforts over the summit of the climb. The peloton has 53 seconds to make up on the largely downhill run into Albi.

  83. 30km remaining from 205.5km

    16:43:57 CEST

    Daryl Impey remains well positioned in the main peloton, with Simon Gerrans on his wheel. Bakelants is the yellow jersey on the road but not by much, as the break's lead is flickering around the 40-second mark.

  84. 27km remaining from 205.5km

    16:46:57 CEST

    Orica-GreenEdge - and Simon Clarke, in particular, and Cannondale lead the peloton down a long, sweeping descent. While they're keen to catch the three leaders, they won't want to make the junction too soon and encourage a fresh round of attacking.

  85. 16:49:33 CEST

    Bakelants has done the lion's share of the work on the front of this three-man break as he tries to nudge his way back into the yellow jersey once again. They still have 38 seconds in hand on the peloton.

  86. 23km remaining from 205.5km

    16:50:51 CEST

    There are still a few twists and turns to come on this sinuous sweep down towards Albi, but the roads widen and straighten significantly on the final approach to the finish.

  87. 20km remaining from 205.5km

    16:54:55 CEST

    The kilometres are counting down rapidly on the run-in to Albi and the break are maintaining their lead of 40 seconds in spite of the Cannondale-led stampede behind. Bakelants, Gautier and Oroz are putting in an impressive shift here.

  88. 16:56:40 CEST

    Stuart O'Grady is leading the Greipel-Cavendish group, some ten minutes down, but his Orica-GreenEdge teammates have been less inclined to set the tempo at the head of the main peloton. They've been content to leave the bulk of the responsibility to Cannondale even though Bakelants is still in the virtual overall lead.

  89. 17km remaining from 205.5km

    16:58:06 CEST

    The break have reached slightly wider and straighter roads on the approach to Albi and this will play against their chances of staying away. But Cannondale will still need some help to peg them back.

  90. 16:58:53 CEST

    Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) comes to the front and gives Cannondale a hand, mindful of the danger Bakelants poses to Impey's overall lead.

  91. 15km remaining from 205.5km

    17:01:58 CEST

    Edvald Boasson Hagen lurks with intent amid a gaggle of Sky riders lined up behind Cannondale. As they showed last year, Sky are loathe to commit men to chasing sprint wins but Boasson Hagen will certainly go toe to toe with Sagan if the chance presents itself. John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) are also lurking with intent in this peloton.

  92. 17:03:14 CEST

    Orica-GreenEdge's decision to commit to the pursuit has helped drag the peloton back to within sight of the three escapees. 25 seconds is the gap but Bakelants et al are still putting up fierce resistance.

  93. 17:04:09 CEST

    Almost twelve minutes down the road, a smiling Mark Cavendish soft pedals towards the finish. Once Cannondale put the hammer down on the climb, there was precious little to be done.

  94. 10km remaining from 205.5km

    17:05:01 CEST

    Bakelants, Gautier and Oroz continue to collaborate smoothly but their lead is down to 23 seconds and tumbling gradually.

  95. 9km remaining from 205.5km

    17:06:14 CEST

    On pan flat, smooth and straight roads, there is an air of inevitability about the break's fate here but still they refuse to go quietly.

  96. 7km remaining from 205.5km

    17:07:23 CEST

    The Cannondale and GreenEdge-led peloton is almost within touching distance of the three leaders and the stage seems set for a bunch finish.

  97. 6km remaining from 205.5km

    17:08:17 CEST

    The gap is down to just 8 seconds as Cannondale continue to string things out.

  98. 5km remaining from 205.5km

    17:09:22 CEST

    Bakelants, Gautier and Oroz continue to dangle just out of reach. The three leaders still have 7 seconds in hand as gaps begin to open in the peloton.

  99. 4km remaining from 205.5km

    17:10:20 CEST

    A little platoon of Cannondale riders had accidentally detached itself from the front of the peloton but they almost came a cropper when they overshot a roundabout. They recover quickly and resume their pursuit of the three leaders.

  100. 3km remaining from 205.5km

    17:11:05 CEST

    It's been a remarkable show of defiance from Bakelants, Oroz and Gautier but with a shade under 3km to go, they have - finally - been swept up by the main field.

  101. 2.5km remaining from 205.5km

    17:12:08 CEST

    Now Cannondale must continue their long, long effort and set up the sprint for Sagan, and what rivals remain are beginning to line up behind him.

  102. 1.5km remaining from 205.5km

    17:12:55 CEST

    Cannondale continue to form the arrowhead at the front, but Argos-Shimano are moving up to help John Degenkolb.

  103. 1km remaining from 205.5km

    17:13:29 CEST

    Sagan has found himself boxed in as the sprint begins.

  104. 17:15:05 CEST

    Sagan extricates from that situation but it's John Degenkolb who opens up the sprint...

  105. 17:15:37 CEST

    Sagan comes around Degenkolb with 150 metres to go and opens the after-burners...

  106. 17:16:11 CEST

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wins stage 7 of the Tour de France, beating John Degenkolb into second place while Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) takes third.

  107. 17:16:38 CEST

    Daryl Impey was safely near the front of the bunch and retains the yellow jersey.

  108. 17:18:20 CEST

    Sagan was more relieved than exuberant on crossing the line. No "Hulk" celebration, instead, he simply pointed at the Cannondale insignia on his green jersey. His team certainly put in a mammoth day's work on his behalf, eliminating the pure sprinters and handing Sagan a huge lead in the points competition to boot.

  109. 17:18:43 CEST


    1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 4:54:12
    2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
    3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
    4 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
    5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
    6 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
    7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard
    8 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
    9 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
    10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step

  110. 17:20:56 CEST

    General classification after stage 7

    1 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 27:12:29
    2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:03
    3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:05
    4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:05
    5 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:06
    6 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:06
    7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:08
    8 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:08
    9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:14
    10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:14

  111. 17:22:44 CEST

    Suffice to say, Sagan is pleased with his day's work: “I feel very good. I’m very happy and I have to thank my team because I couldn’t do what I did without my team. This victory is for all of the team. I’m very happy because I didn’t feel very good after the crash on the first stage but day by day I’m feeling better and now I’m really happy to have my first stage win of this Tour de France.”

  112. 17:24:34 CEST

    Sagan is clearly pleased with his day's work: “I feel very good. I’m very happy and I have to thank my team because I couldn’t do what I did without my team. This victory is for all of the team. I’m very happy because I didn’t feel very good after the crash on the first stage but day by day I’m feeling better and now I’m really happy to have my first stage win of this Tour de France.”

  113. 17:30:38 CEST

    Thanks for joining us on Cyclingnews for today's live coverage of the Tour de France. A full report, pictures and results will follow here, and we'll have all the news and reaction from Albi in the coming hours. And, of course, we'll be back with more live coverage tomorrow as the Tour enters the mighty Pyrenees, with a 195km stage to the summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines.

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