Tour de France Stage 7 Results
Marcel Kittel pipped Edvald Boasson Hagen by the tiniest of margins in a photo finish to the Tour de France seventh stage on Friday. To the naked eye, and even television pictures, it seemed impossible to separate the pair as they crossed the line in Nuits Saint-Georges. But after a nervous wait and several inclusive views of the finish line battle, Quick-Step’s Kittel was awarded his third stage win of the year and 12th in total, matching the record for a German held by Erik Zabel.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Norwegian Boasson Hagen who looked all set for victory until a late charge by the irrepressible Kittel, already winner of the second and sixth stages, although far more convincingly. Australian Michael Matthews finished third as reigning champion Chris Froome maintained his overall lead at the end of the 213.5km stage from Troyes on another day of minimal drama, until the controversial finish.
For the overall contenders it was another day to simply stay out of trouble before the weekend’s back-to-back mountain stages when the yellow jersey battle will return to center stage. In the meantime, the top sprinters will have two days to lick their wounds and try to conjure up a way to stop Kittel.
Froome believes this weekend’s eighth and ninth stages, in particular Sunday’s, will shake up the overall standings, but he insisted there are tougher challenges to come later in the race, including the final week in the Alps. “It is going to be an important block these next two days, certainly Sunday’s stage is going to be very decisive,” said the 32-year-old. The Mont du Chat climb on Sunday is one of the toughest in the race and classified as hours (above) category. It’s 8.7km long and averages a 10.3 percent gradient, but it also comes after another two hours category climbs that are almost as tough.
Froome and many of his rivals also tackled it during last month’s Criterium du Dauphine. “There’s going to be a lot of climbing and we’ll see a lot more damage than in the Dauphine on that climb,” he said of the Mont du Chat. “But I do believe there are tougher stages back-to-back later in the race; for example the Telegraphe and Galibier stage followed by the Izoard the next day is a harder combination than what we’re up against these next two days. “But certainly Sunday’s stage is going to be very decisive.” Those Alpine stages 17 and 18 feature some monsters that are longer than the Mont du Chat climb, but not as steep. Their summits all sit at more than 2,000 meters above sea level while this weekend’s climbs peak at more than 500 meters lower.