Gorges du Tarn, riders look small at the start in the majestic scenario. Incredible heat and I wonder when the UCI will set this 'extreme condition protocol'.
The first climb comes soon: Côte de Badaroux (3rd cat, 4.6km, avg 5.1%). And soon it comes also the first attack: by Westra and van Baarle. 14 riders bridge, 6 are still chasing. Serge Pauwels wins the first KOM . After 15 the 27 leaders has a 45'' gap. They are: Westra, Vuillermoz, Pinot, Rogers, Sagan, Anacona, Herrada, Bak, De Gendt, Geschke, Rodriguez, A Yates, Kwiatkowski, Trentin, Uran, Gautier, Quemeneur, Kruijswijk, Jungels, Durasek, Plaza, Talansky, Hesjedal, van Baarle, Edet, Voss and Pauwels. But Katusha is chasing hard and the gap is down to only 20''.
Break caught a new one formes: nine riders Pinot, Rogers, Bak, Sagan, A. Yates, Kwiatkowski, Trentin, Geschke and Hesjedal. After 60 km, they have 1'44". 11 riders got dropped, among them Cavendish but also Peraud. They are 6' behind the peloton.
Col du Bez (4th cat, 2.6 km, avg 4.4%), then Col de la Croix de Bauzon (4th cat, 1.3 km, 6.2%). Pinot won the second KOM and Rogers won the third.
Descent. A long one. Here the road is wet for a recent thunderstorm. Luke Rowe is setting the pace in the peloton. The average speed is very high today, behind and in front, where Peter Sagan wins an undisputated intermediate sprint in Aubenas. Degenkolb is the first one in the bunch, while Greipel gets 5 points and remains second, but the gap with Sagan is now 77 points. It's going to hard for the Gorilla because breaks suit Sagan way better.
Last climb of the day: Col de l'Escrinet (2nd cat, 7.9km, avg 5.8%). Gap is 1'43'' 63 km to go.
The gruppetto is more than 10' behind, Vanmarcke and Teklehaimanot are also down there.
In front Hesjedal is trying to bridge while the rest of the break got caught by the peloton.
Lotto-Soudal and Europcar are leading the chase for Greipel and Coquard. 30 km to go Trentin and Hesjedal give up. All together and preparing the sprint. On the background the large river Rhone.
Katusha is there for Kristoff, disappointing so far after a stellar season.
And it's still very very hot: about 37 degrees. 16.4km to go the gap is 12’07” for the Cavendish group.
Now Lampre comes for Cimolai. But they are all there: sprinters team for sprinters, gc teams for gc riders. BMC entering Valence.
3 km to go Stybar attacks. Surprised, the peloton esitates. Then Katusha forces the pace and he's caught.
At the sprint Greipel wins on Degenkolb and Kristoff. 4th Sagan who keeps the Green Jersey.
MORE TO COME