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Tour de France 2017: Stage 7

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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 7 from Troyes to Nuits-Saint-Georges.

 

Bonjour from a hot and sunny Troyes as the riders prepare for the 213.5km stage.

As usual we'll have news and photos from the start, blow by blow updates during the stage and then reaction and photos after the stage.

After the high-speed hectic sprint yesterday and the subsequent spat between Bouhanni and Guarnieri, the Cofidis sprinter was quizzed by media at the start.

After Marcel Kittel's victroy in Troyes yesterday, the overall classification remained unchanged with Chris Froome in yellow and Team Sky in control. 

This is the sign on podium at the start. Every rider has to pass here.

Marcel Kittel is naturally at the centre of attention at the start. 

As was Arnaud Demare (FDJ).

Chris Froome gets to wear a bright new yellow jersey for each stage. Here he speaks to Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson. 

Froome also posed for photographs with the organiser of the Tour de France criterium that will be held in China in October.

The riders have gathered on the start line and are about to roll out from Troyes.

They face an neutralised section of 8.2km before the flag drops and the stage starts.

Breaks have been allowed to go clear from the start but today there cold be a far bigger battle after Froome and Team hinted they might let the yellow jersey go to save their strength.

The riders have rolled out.  Here we go.

“To be honest it’s not the plan to keep the jersey every day until we get to Paris but we’ve got the team do it, 100 per cent. Honestly, I believe it’s a team that can be even stronger than it is now in the third,” the team’s director, Nicolas Portal, told Cyclingnews.

It's another hot day with temperatures close to 30C. There is only a slight risk of rain, perhaps via a thunder storm, with a 15km/h wind from the west.

The finish is in Nuits-Saint-Georges, famous for it's red wines.

The riders are ticked in behind the red race director's car, waiting for the flag to drop. 

From the CN blimp we can see Thomas De Gendt perhaps waiting to attack.

The riders split around a huge roundabout but reform as always.

Here we go! The flag drops. They're off!

And we have an attack!

Cannondale is again in the move.

The peloton seems to have let them go. There is no bagarre to get in the break today either.

Also in the four-rider attack are Manuele Mori (UAE Emirates), Maxime Bouet (Team Fortuneo - Oscaro) and Yohann Gène (Direct Energie).

The four already lead by 1:40.

The big name overall contenders are all cruising in the peloton, happy that the break has formed quickly. 

Like clockwork, Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors) comes to the front to set the tempo for Kittel and protect his chances of a bunch sprint.

The gap is up to 3:30 as the four riders take smooth turns on the front. 

As you can see from the stage profile above, today's stage includes some rollnig roads mid-stage. 

The stage is racing through fields of wheat and other crops at the moment. We hope to find some sunflowers soon to complete the iconic shots of the race.

186km remaining from 213km

The Seine is over 770km long.

Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) is also working to help control the attack, with Team Sky tucked behind the hard working trio.

Bak, Vermote and Le Gac are taking turns, with Team Sky happy letting them move back in ahead of them.

Behind the 'bar' has laready opened due to the heat with domestiques bringing fresh bidons up to their leaders and teammates.

He had at least seven bidons in his pockets.

It seems that several other sprinter teams are so far refusing to help with the chase.

Despite the steady pace, the speed is high, with the average speed for the first hour at 43.9km/h.

The quiet kilometres during flat stages only lead to a more intense and high-speed finish.

To get a bird's eye view of today's stage, check out our special videos produced with relive.

Will Mark Cavendish ride again this season? The basic answer is that no one knows at this point. And it is hard for a team to lose its leader, DS Roger Hammond told us. "Of course it's a big blow."

Not bad, to sit at an outdoor cafe with a bite to eat and something to drink and watch the Tour pass by only a meter or so away...

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) has not started the Tour the way he would have wanted to, but hopes to make up time this weekend in the mountains. "I hope, in my head, and I’m always thinking that I can make up time,” he told Cyclingnews.

146km remaining from 213km

A few kms ago, the gap was at two minutes. Now it has shot back up to 2:48.

Bouhanni gets a new bike, no idea what was wrong with the firt one. He has a teammate with him to help bring him back.

Team Sky doesn't need to hold the yellow jersey for the whole Tour, and wouldn't actually mind letting it go for a while, DS Nicolas Portal told Cyclingnews. He is happy to let some other team do the work, and besides, thinks his team will be the strongest in the third week. 

Nacer Bouhanni has already set a personal record in this Tour de France, by starting stage 7. He has never made it that far before.

120km remaining from 213km

The day's only intermediate sprint is coming up in 15 km or so, but the sprint teams are already gathering and preparing.

Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb does not like the sprints are going here at the Tour. "I'm not risking my life for a top five," he says. 

Not far now until the intermediate sprint.

Bouet opens the sprint from far out. Mori jumps with him and takes the points. The other two just roll casually along.

Six riders have jumped from the peloton for the next intermediate sprint points. Colbrelli, Kristoff and Demare were the main participants, with Colbrelli crossing first.

The riders finally reach the feed zone. The riders in the break don't need to take their musette, with Maxime Bouet (Team Fortuneo - Oscaro) jokingly spraying his soigneur with water.

95km remaining from 213km

Despite the high temperatures, there are again huge crowds along the road side cheering on every rider. 

Crash!

As the peloton hits the feed there Roglic has a problem with his musette and goes down.

It seemed his musette went into his wheel. That's a rookie mistake he will surely learn from.

Several riders have dropped back to the doctor's white car for treatment. We've seen Julien Simon of Cofidis and also Yoann Offredo of Wanty.

The Lotto Soudal has taken control at the head of the peloton.

They want to bring the gap down after the feed zone caused it to rise by a minute.

Lotto seem to have sniffed a bit of a cross wind.

However Lotto's move has awoken the other teams, with Quick-Step also moving up to the front.

The wind is blow some flags but it is not enough to cause seriuos problems.

Indeed Vermote is still doing big licks on the front of the peloton. 

Crash! Roglic goes down again. He tangles with Sicard of Direct Energie. Navarro of Cofidis was also brought down.

Roglic seems to have hit his knee. He's waiting for his team car and will have to chase back on.

Roglic has several holes in his shorts. He gets his bike fixed and begins to chase in the long line of team cars.

This middle section of the stage is in the rolling hills and so the peloton enjoys the fresh air of a descent.

It wouldn't be the Tour de FRance without a sunflower shot.

Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) was in the midst of the media attention at the sunny start in Troyes.

Kittel added that he will continue in the battle for the green jersey.

Back in the race the break is on the only climb of the day.

Mori and Bouet fought for the point at the summit. But the Frenchman got it by keeping Mori closed against the barriers.

The Tour de France is a key moment for riders and teams to decide their plans for the future.

"We've had really positive discussions. We've agreed but not signed. Hopefully, we'll have that done by the end of the Tour. I like the project and I like the opportunities I get," Cummings told Cyclingnews.

60km remaining from 213km

Chris Froome is in the yellow jersey. He also wears a yellow helmet because Team Sky is leading the team competition.

Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson spoke to Froome this morning at the start.

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was in a long solo breakaway move during stage 4.

Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors) wasn't looking forward to another day of controlling the breakaway group but he again been doing a lot of the work.

48km remaining from 213km

In other Dimension Data news, the team has said it hopes that Mark Cavendish will race agsin this season despite fracturing his shoulder blade in his crash on stage 4. 

The chase is on now, with the gap to the break down to 1:00.

40km remaining from 213km

35km remaining from 213km

28km remaining from 213km

The peloton can see the break down on the long straight road through the forest.

25km remaining from 213km

BMC is on the right, Trek is down the middle and Sky is on the left. 

22km remaining from 213km

It is a little early for the catch.

However we are also on exposed roads.

The exposed road ended quickly and so no attacks came this time.

However we can see the Movistar team and Katusha fighting for position in the middle of the peloton.

Christian Knees in on the front for Team Sky, protecting Chris Froome.

16km remaining from 213km

Wind has really dropped here :-( #tdf17

A few years ago McEwen would have been happy to hear that the wind has dropped.

Orica-Scott and LottoNL Jumbo are also up front, packing the narrow country road.

The break is refusing to give up the fight as the peloton hesitate.

Wisely Quick-Step has sent Gilbert to the front to do a big turn to bring the gap down.

10km remaining from 213km

The gap is down to just 18 seconds.

Gilbert does another big turn. Even climber Gianluca Brambilla is helping out with the chase.

Even Vermote is back at the front to do one last turn on the front. He's already worked for most of the stage to keep the break in check.

The riders soon turn right at 5.5km to go and then the road to the finish is straight and flat. 

The breakaway riders attack each other as they fight for the most aggressive prize. They're refusing to give up.

Gene has sat up and the other three are about to be caught. 

The three shake hands and sit up.

6km remaining from 213km

5km remaining from 213km

Team Sky has slipped down the peloton.

Demare uses his shoulder to bounce Bouhanni off his lead out train.

2km remaining from 213km

QuickStep is just behind them.

Here comes Dimension Data.

Last kilometre!!

Demare has slipped back.

Quick-Step lead it out.

Di Data take over.

Di Data leads out Boasson Hagen.

He keeps his speed and its close on the line.

We need a photo finish.

It's close but it looks like Kittel gets it.

But it's very close.

Boasson Hagen wins it by a whisker. It seems.... 

No. It's Kittel! Boasson Hagen second.

Kittel finds out via a team radio and celebrates by hugging his soigneur and punching the air.

That was very, very close.

Provisional resuls show that Michael Matthews was third, with Alexander Kristoff fourth.

This is the top ten for the stage:

Britain's Daniel Mclay (Fortuneo - Oscaro) was tenth but there's no top ten for Demare today.

It was Kittel's 12th win at the Tour de France but it was probably his closest.

Fortunately the photo finish camera can see a a gap of a 1000th of a second.

It was Kittel's third win at this year's Tour and he has now beaten the German record of stages wins held by Erik Zabel. 

Kittel came up alongside Boasson Hagen with just 75m to go. He was still behind with 20m to go but got his wheel ahead with a late bike throw.

This is the photo finish. Can you see the difference between Boasson Hagen and Kittel?

Kittel celebrates on the podium. He will back in a second to pull on the green jersey too due to Demare failing to finish in the top ten. 

Demare was there but just too far back.

Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton and so kept the leader's yellow jersey for another day.

FDJ lead out man Jacopo Guarnieri has revealed to Italian television that Demare and all the team struggled to recover overnight in their hotel. He did not expalin why but indicated there was a problem with the hotel. 

This is the first image of Kittel as he crosses the line. He is not sure to have won at this point.

Chris Froome spoke briefly about his quiet day in the peloton.

We stand corrected. Kittel has now equaled Zabel's record of 12 stage wins.

Here's Froome on the podium.

This shot shows just how close it was at the line.

Kittel was naturally happy to win his third stage this year.

Kittel is happy to be in great form at the right moment.

It was this close.

After a quiet day in the peloton, the GC contenders face an intense weekend of fighting for every second.

The 181.5km stage includes six major climbs, including three Hors Category climbs.

Chris Froome is already looking ahead to the weekend. Here he talks about Saturday's stage.

According to L'Equipe, the Tissot time keepers have calculated Kittel's winning margin as just 0.0003 of a second or just 6mm in distance considering the speed he was travelling.

Kittel was happy to take the green jersey and autograph several others.

Here's Kittle in green.

The other jerseys remain unchanged with Fabio Aru (Astana) in the polka-dot jersey as best climber and Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) as the best young rider in the white jersey.

Aru said he likes the red dots because it reminds him of the red and white Sardinia flag.

Simon is trying to emulate his twin brother Adam who won white last year. 

To read our full stage report on the close sprint finish and see our full photo gallery from the stage, click here.

To read the first reaction from Marcel Kittel, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Chris Froome, Richie Porte, click here 

To watch the video highlights of the stage click here.

In other news, Lucinda BRand won solo today at the women's Giro Rosa.