Cannondale Pro Cycling absolutely smashed Stage 7 of the 100th edition of the Tour de Franec from Montpellier to Albi this afternoon - the game plan wa to drop Peter Sagan's sprint rivals on the day's second climb and, that part of the job done, for Sagan to take the intermediate sprint and then challenge for the win. It went perfectly. Here's some reaction.
Stage winner Peter Sagan of Cannondale, who extended his lead at the top of the points classification today – he’s on 224 points, with Mark Cavendish a distant second on 130l
This was a show of how strong we are as a team. All of our riders were committed to one thing and everyone trusts me now and they are prepared to work hard for me because they know that I want to do well.
Even if it's not an ideal stage for me, I'll keep on trying. They are even prepared to more than I ask of them.
We did a lot of work on the second climb and we dropped the sprinters and the team started to believe that we could do well.
I had said, ‘We'll pull only until we get to the intermediate sprint and then we'll take it easy...' I thought maybe another team would take over and lead through to the finish.
My team-mates didn't understand why. They came to me and said, ‘But we can continue to ride! Why should we sit up now and wait for the sprinters?' And then they went back to the front and worked very, very well.
This is the end of the first week but we still have another two weeks ahead of us.
It's still a long way to go until the end of the Tour de France and we don't have any bad luck and can hold the green jersey all the way to Paris.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatowski, who along with team mates Sylvain Chavanel and Peter Velits remained in the front group while others attempted to help Cavendish chase back on
It was really tough today. I didn't expect Cannondale to go so fast on the climbs. With 100km to go they went full gas on the climb and dropped many guys.
I didn't realize they could handle that gap until the finish. I'd like to thank Chava and Peter Velits, who stayed with me so I could save my legs for tomorrow.
It was a dream to wear the white jersey before the Tour de France, but now I have worn it for six days. It's an amazing feeling.
I will try to keep this jersey as long as possible. There are so many hard stages in front of us. So, I don't know how it will go.
For sure Nairo Quintana, Tejay van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot are good climbers, so in the second and third week they will gain some time.
Jan Bakelants of RadioShack-Nissan, who wore the race leader’s yellow jersey on Stages 3 and 4, and who was in today’s second break, swept up with less than 3km to go
I thought about regaining the yellow jersey for a second while we were out there at the front but we didn't get much of an advantage.
Still, this morning on the bus I was laughing with the guys and I said, ‘Tonight I want to be back in yellow.'
It's not impossible in this kind of stage; it's hard for everyone and after way the Cannondale team did on the first col it could have been that they were all a bit tired.
With a big mountain stage coming up tomorrow, it's possible that there might have been some hesitation so it's better for riders like me to give it all.
You never know, the hesitation may just give you two or three minutes and then it'd be possible to go for the stage win.
If that was the situation then I could have also reclaimed the jersey.
If I could have earned an advantage of three minutes I think I could have kept the jersey for a fair while.
Overall favourite Chris Froome of Team Sky on today’s stage and looking ahead to the Pyrenees this weekend
I think most of us knew it was going to come down to a bunch sprint but we didn’t expect Cannondale to take it up the way they did.
That made the race a bit harder but we were safe in the front with a few other guys. We’re glad to get to the finish and we’re a day closer to the mountains now.
It will definitely be a fight on the climb tomorrow up to the finish. This is what we’ve trained for and we’re looking forward to putting it to good use now.
I think we’ve got a well-established style of racing already. I don’t see us doing anything differently. Obviously in the heat of the race you’ve got to be able to make calls within those last few kilometres
I’m sure it’s going to come down to that tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.
Sky Procyling’s team principal, Dave Brailsford, on the race reaching the mountains
I think everybody will be looking at each other tomorrow but we’ve come to the Tour to race and it’s pretty exciting.
Everybody’s ready and everybody’s looking forward to it – I know the guys are looking forward to it, for sure.
The first real mountain stage is a bit like the first round in boxing – you go in and test your partner to see how his fitness is and I’m sure there will be a bit of sparring tomorrow.
It’s hard to judge anybody’s form heading into it and you can only truly assess somebody in the mountains once you get there.
To try and speculate isn’t going to work so we’ll wait and see where everybody’s at tomorrow.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.