Stranger things have happened when the French president has visited the Tour de France in years past, though the thought will be of little consolation to Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) after they contrived to allow victory slip through their fingers in Mende on stage 14.
In 1960, for instance, the peloton stopped at Colombey-les-deux-Église to pay its respects to Charles De Gaulle, which allowed Pierre Beuffeuil, delayed by a puncture, to make up three minutes and then slip away to snare a cheeky stage victory in Troyes.
On Saturday afternoon, before the visiting President François Hollande, Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) sprang a surprise of another kind when he caught Pinot and Bardet as the road flattened out with a little over a kilometre to go, and then blew right by them to win the stage.
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