Tour de France Diary, Stage Seven: Evans second as Froome claims unlikely victory
Gentlemen, activate your climbing legs.
Last night the 99th Tour de France entered the mountains for the first time, after a first week dominated by the sprinters and puncheurs.
Prior to the stage, news of Ryder Hesjedal’s abandonment came through. The 2012 Giro d’Italia winner is the first overall contender to withdraw from the race, having severely hurt his leg in the crash 26km from the finish of stage six.
The 199km stage seven from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles, classified only as a medium mountain stage, featured three categorised climbs:
• Col de Grosse Pierre (112km) – a 3.1km category three climb at 6.4%
• Col du Mont de Fourche (150.5km) – a 3.1km category three climb at 6.4%
• La Planche des Belles Filles (finish) – a 5.9km category one climb at 8.5%
One of just three summit finishes at this year’s Tour, yesterday’s final climb to La Planche des Belles Filles is widely considered the hardest road ascent in the Vosges region.
It was an opportunity for the favourites in the general classification (GC) to seriously gauge their rivals’ form. What a test it proved to be.
Cadel Evans looked sharp, but lonely – the only member of BMC Racing to stay in the exclusive leading group on the climb to the finish.
His expression was one of calm determination on the early slopes, but it gradually morphed into a look of near exhaustion.
Working alongside Chris Froome in the interests of Bradley Wiggins, Australian Richie Porte set a fiery pace matched by only three others: Evans, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne).
The speed set by Porte’s exceptional job of work was too much for Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck and Robert Gesink, who all lost time. It also put Wiggins in the yellow jersey.
Evans attacked strongly with 350m remaining, but had no answer for the somewhat unexpected counter-attack by Froome, who is the new leader of the King of the Mountains (KOM) classification.
Evans now sits in second place overall, 10 seconds behind Wiggins.
The hard luck story of the day was Jurgen Van Den Broek puncturing before the start of the climb. The Belgian worked his way back, but not far enough, surrendering two minutes to the Wiggins/Evans group.
Earlier, a seven-man break featuring three-time Tour stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) was established.
Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale), Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) formed the remainder of the escape group.
The break half-heartedly contested the intermediate sprint at Gérardmer, with Gautier hitting the checkpoint first ahead of Fofonov and Sanchez.
Back in the peloton it was a two-way battle for eighth place over the sprint point between Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Australian Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE). Goss suffered a mechanical issue, allowing Sagan to extend his green jersey lead over the Tasmanian by one point to 33.
Sorensen was the first man over both the day’s third category climbs, Sanchez twice the bridesmaid. The Danish climber accumulated four King of the Mountains points for his efforts, Sanchez two.
Tomorrow is another day for the mountaineers as the peloton makes a 158km journey from Belfort to Porrentruy for stage eight.
With seven categorised climbs dotting the profile, the breakaway will have a high chance of succeeding.
An attacking rider like Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) could even take the yellow jersey should he find himself up the road.
One thing is certain. Things are really heating up at the Tour.
Tour de France Stage 7 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 58′ 35″
2. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 04h 58′ 37″ + 00′ 02″
3. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 58′ 37″ + 00′ 02″
4. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 58′ 42″ + 00′ 07″
5. TAARAMAE Rein, COFIDIS, LE CREDIT EN LIGNE, 04h 58′ 54″ + 00′ 19″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 04h 59′ 19″ + 00′ 44″
7. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 04h 59′ 21″ + 00′ 46″
8. BRAJKOVIC Janez, ASTANA, 04h 59′ 21″ + 00′ 46″
9. MENCHOV Denis, KATUSHA, 04h 59′ 25″ + 00′ 50″
10. MONFORT Maxime, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 04h 59′ 31″ + 00′ 07″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 217
2. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 185
3. GREIPEL Andre, LOTTO-BELISOL, 172
4. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 129
5. PETACCHI Alessandro, LAMPRE-ISD, 109
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 20
2. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 16
3. WIGGINS Bradley, 12
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 34h 21’ 20″
2. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 34h 21’ 30″ + 00′ 10″
3. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 34h 21’ 36″ + 00′ 16″
4. TAARAMAE Rein, COFIDIS, LE CREDIT EN LIGNE, 34h 21’ 52″ + 00′ 32″
5. MENCHOV Denis, KATUSHA, 34h 22’ 14″ + 00′ 54″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 34h 22’ 19″ + 00′ 59″
7. MONFORT Maxime, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 34h 22’ 29″ + 01′ 09″
8. ROCHE Nicolas, AG2R LA MONDIALE, 34h 22’ 42″ + 01′ 22″
9. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 34h 22’ 52″ + 01′ 32″
10. ROGERS Michael, SKY PRO CYCLING, 34h 23’ 00″ + 01′ 40″
Looking to join The Roar team? We're searching for an experienced Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. Yes, this does mean you get to work with the site all day long! If you're a digital media sales star, we want to hear from you. Apply now.