Patience is a virtue seldom associated with the frenetic nature of the Tour de France but with three heady days in the Pyrenees it was understandable that the GC favourites took Friday's stage with a degree of caution.
With just one major ascent and the harder two days to come Team Sky and Movistar briefly laid down arms and divided up the responsibility of control as they chased an early break and kept the peloton in check.
For defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) the stage was another day to tick off on his march to Paris, his expected duel with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) set aside for one more day. The only major hurdle both men had to clear came late on when the flamme rouge banner came down, landing on Adam Yates, and briefly holding up the favourites.
"It was quite a surprise to come around that corner and see Yates on the floor. It's one of those unexpected thing. I think the jury have neutralized the times and we just neutralized the race from there to the finish line," Froome said at the finish.
Froome's only appearance at the front came inside the final few hundred meters when he assumed control and effectively told everyone to sit up. As he came over the line he was seen talking to Quintana's teammate Alejanro Valverde.
"We just chatted about the race, who is pulling and who is going to take charge of the chase today in the peloton. At the end we decided to share the workload there."
Stage 8 to Luchon and the first summit finish to Andorra on Sunday will shake up the GC. Greg Van Avermaet's valiant ride to extend his overall lead and Steven Cumming's latest epic entertained but there is a growing sense that the race is on the cusp of exploding.
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"We've got a really big weekend coming up and we've got a lot of hard racing coming up so we wanted to save a little bit in the next for the next two days.
"Tomorrow's stage is a lot harder [than today] and there's a lot of tired legs. Today wasn't an easy stage so once we get into tomorrow's stage and Sunday's stage we're going to see some proper big gaps."
When asked about his conversation with Movistar as he came towards the line and if he expected the Spanish team to work more on the final climb, Froome responded:
"They rode a much higher pace than we did controlling the race. It looked like they wanted to bring the race back today, which told me that they were trying for the stage but on the final climb they backed off. Either that or they ran out of people to pull. I don't know which one it was. Either way it was a good day for the GC guys to tick off."
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