It was a flat course and a rainy day, with a surprise and upset ending. All seemed to be going as expected – until shortly before the three kilometres to go marker.
Rick Zabel (BMC), Jerome Pineau (IAM Cycling) and Marco Frapporti (Androni Giacattoli) were the day’s break group but they must have known from the start that they had no chance. The peloton let them dangle off the front until there were 17.5km to go, when the trio was scooped up again.
From there it looked like any other sprint stage. But just before the magical three-kilometre marker – which would offer amnesty to all who crossed under it – one rider on the left hand side of the road went down, setting off a chain reaction which saw much of the field go down or held up. That included both race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Richie Porte of Sky.
Sacha Modolo went on to win a close sprint, and the pink jersey changed shoulders from Contador to Astana’s Fabio Aru.
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