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Tour de France Stage 7: Marcel Kittel takes win by a hair's breadth

Quick Step Floors rider back in green jersey after edging out Edvald Boasson Hagen in Nuits-St-George

Marcel Kittel of Quick Step Floors has won Stage 7 of the Tour de France by the narrowest of margins from Dimension Data's Edvald Boasson Hagen in what must be one of the closest sprint finishes in the race's 114-year history.

There was nothing to separate the riders on the finish-line photo in the Burgundy wine-growing town of Nuits-St-Georges, but it was KIttel who got the decision for his 12th career Tour de France stage win and his third of this year's race.

The German had chosen to follow Boasson Hagan's wheel as the Norwegian, taking over sprinting duties from the injured Mark Cavednish, was given a terrific leadout by Reinardt Jansevan Rensburg, and it proved to be the correct decision as he also got back into the lead of the points competition.

Tissot, official timekeepers for the race, said afterwards that the gap between the pair was just 3/10,000ths of a second, equivalent to 6 millimetres - although it looked less than that on the photo-finish, with many querying on social media why a dead heat hadn't been called.

With strong winds raising fears that the race might split into echelons, it was a nervous day in the peloton with the teams with riders contesting the overall forcing the pace at the front of the bunch at times.

The threatened splits on the peloton did not happen, and there's no change in the general classification, with defending champion Chris Froome continuing to hold a 12-second lead over Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas.

The day's break, comprising four riders - Manuele Mori of UAE Team Emirates, Direct Energie's Yohann Gène, Dylan van Baarle of Cannondale-Drapac and the Fortuneo-Oscaro rider Maxime Bouet - was given little leeway as a result, and was eventually caught with 6 kilometres remaining of the 213.5 kilometre stage from Troyes.

Reaction

Stage winner Marcel Kittel

When I crossed the line, I really had no clue if I won or not. Before the finish, I knew it was going to be close. At 150m to go, I thought it was still 200, but luckily, the door opened on the right side I could pass Edvald [Boasson Hagen].

To reach twelve stage wins at the Tour is an incredible success. I'm in a great shape. I'm super happy. The lead out was great. It's just crazy. I already have three wins in this Tour. I'm so happy about that.

Overall leader Chris Froome

To have the yellow jersey since day has been a dream scenario for Team Sky. It's been an amazing first week of racing.

The teams of the sprinters and BMC in stage 5 having done most of the work, it's been a blessing for us and it has kept the guys relatively fresh.

It wasn't this hot when we started in Germany but I love the heat of the past three days. Summer, that's what the Tour de France feels like.

I'm grateful that I got a feel of Mont du Chat at the Dauphiné and especially its downhill but I expect more damage in Sunday's stage than at the Dauphiné because of the two climbs before the Mont du Chat.

The top 10 riders on GC are still very close. We'll know more about each other after the coming weekend.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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