Matej Mohjoric of Bahrain Victorious has won a pulsating Stage 7 of the Tour de France following a day that will go down in the history of the race, winning solo from a 29-man break that included 10 past stage winners, points leader Mark Cavendish of Deceuninck-Quick Step, the race leader Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix and 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali of Trek-Segafredo, who ahead of this weekend's first mountain stages is right in the battle for the overall. Losing time is last year's runner-up, Jumbo-Vismo's Primoz Roglic.
The longest stage on the Tour de France for 21 years, it became one for the ages after that huge escape group – something more likely to be seen in the closing days of the race rather than the opening week – got away after a frantic start to the 249km stage from Vierzon to Le Creusot.
The move, when it got away, was initiated by race leader van der Poel – no sheltering behind his Alpecin-Fenix team mates in the peloton for the Dutch rider in the yellow jersey, who leads the general classification by 30 seconds from his great rival Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma, also influential in establishing the break.
They were joined by a stellar cast of past Tour de France stage winners, road world champions, and riders who had won Grand Tours and Monuments – among them, Nibali, Philippe Gilbert of Lotto-Soudal and Team BikeExchange’s Simon Yates, plus Cavendish and his Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate, Kasper Asgreen.
Fighting hard to get into the break on a day when a series of late climbs meant there was no prospect of a sprint finish, a rejuvenated Cavendish took the maximum 20 points on offer at the intermediate sprint as he seeks to claim the green jersey, which he has only won once, a decade ago in 2011.
Mohoric struck out with Lotto-Soudal’s Brent Van Moer on the day’s first categorised climb and by the time he crested the day’s main challenge, the Signal de Luchon – a first-time ascent in the race with ramps of up to 18 per cent – the Slovenian champion was out on his own as he rode away to victory.
The 26-year-old, world road champion at junior and under-23 level, has now won stages at all three Grand Tours, and has also claimed the polka dot jersey of best climber today.
Back in the main group, Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates was unable to stop the break getting away, despite leading a frantic chase early on, the defending champion crossing the line 5 minutes 15 seconds down on the stage winner in a group that also included the best-placed Ineos Grenadiers rider, Richard Carapaz.
Pogacar, third overall this morning, now lies fifth and while none of the riders ahead of him on GC are likely to be challenging for the yellow jersey come Paris, in sixth place, 25 seconds behind him, is a rider who has won all three Grand Tours – Nibali. The Italian came here to hunt stage wins and prepare for the Olympics, but is now very much in the fight for the overall.
Last year’s runner-up, however, Roglic, is almost certainly out of contention as the injuries he sustained in a late crash on Monday’s Stage 3 continued to take their toll, losing almost 4 minutes to Pogacar today and now lying more than 9 minutes off the race lead.
Reaction to follow.
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.