Death, taxes, and crashes. There have been 382 kilometres of racing in this Tour so far, and just over 20 of them have already had an undeniable effect on the race. Many contenders lost time yesterday as the sprint trains battled it out and a late crash with 1.4 kilometres to go (albeit not a hard one) decimated the peloton and left a small group of about 10 to 15 riders fighting it out for the win.
From that group, World Champion Peter Sagan timed his sprint best, taking advantage of a tired Arnaud Demare going too soon on the uphill drag to the line whilst having just about enough to hold off a charging Arnaud Demare. There was disappointment for Andre Greipel, ideally placed to go closer before eventually ending up well beaten, and Alexander Kristoff, who was too far back to really contest.
Sagan took the yellow jersey as well, with Fernando Gaviria one of a few notable names to either be taken out by the crash or be held up with no time to respond and losing the yellow on positions. Quick-Step have a strong team for tomorrow’s team-time trial, so he might have a chance of bringing it back although surely Geraint Thomas is too close if Sky’s firepower shines through.
1 Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
2 Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)
3 Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
4 Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
5 Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates)
6 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team)
8 Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
9 John Degenkolb ( Trek-Segafredo)
10 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
Amazingly, a quiet day for our hero/villain (delete as you so please) as he didn’t fall, get spat on, break anything or have urine thrown over him. Lovely scenes for some, a tragedy for others. David Brailsford, however? Less so.
He accused David Lapperitent of nationalistic bias and a failure to grasp the responsibilities of his role, instead being stuck in a "local French mayor kind of mentality".
Cholet, team time trial, 35.5km
Hugely important. A 35km team time trial intended to stretch out the classification early that will now potentially bring back some of the contenders who lost time on Saturday and extend the gap further for others.
The route in and out of Chloet’s City Centre is one with rolling roads that suits those able to exert a great deal of power. There’s not many interruptions to wide open roads – on the Avenue Francis Bouet the teams hit a climb of 5% for 700 meters before the route continues on long straight roads. With 7 kilometres gone, the route narrows for 2 kilometres before opening up once again.
There’s no real rise of note until 16 kilometres, with a climb of 700 metres at 5% at La Romagne, and then a flat run of about 6 and a half kilometres until the third rise of the day, in La Séguinière. The riders move onto the Rue de la Bastille, 1.5km with two different halves of 3% and 5%.
There are four teams that are fancied to do well but the experts at the discipline are Sky and BMC. Sky had a fine dress rehearsal when they put 38 seconds and more into the field. From that squad, Geraint Thomas, Michał Kwiatkowski, Jonathan Castroviejo and Gianni Moscon are all here once again and three of them are national champions whilst Chris Froome is not bad against the clock and Wout Poels won the TT at Paris-Nice.
BMC are fantastic time trialists and had their best squad at the Tour de Suisse, where Richie Porte, Stefan Kung and, Michael Schar and Tejay Van Garderen won by 20 seconds. They will join with Patirck Bevin to make a fearsome unit and the pair of them should be looking to take time on the rest of the field.
Mitchelton-Scott have come with a line-up solely for Adam Yates and in that is a strong selection which includes Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge, and Jack Bauer as big engines. Five of their team that raced in the World Championships are here and they did well at the Dauphine.
Sunweb will be annoyed to have lost Wilco Kelderman to injury and they are the TTT World Champions. Michael Matthews, Tom Dumoulin, and Søren Kragh Anderson are all there from that squad and they will hope to do well.
Quick-Step also have a strong team which is superior to the outfit that was well beaten at the Dauphine and they will hope to be in the running.