Marcel Kittel won his third stage of the 2017 Tour de France in a thrilling photo finish with Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension Data) in a bunch sprint.
It took a while for Kittel to be confirmed as winner as the riders crossed at exactly the same time, with less than a tyre-width being the difference between the winner and second place.
They day began as usual with four riders attacking from the stage start and quickly getting a gap after Team Sky and Lotto-Soudal shut down any further attacks and allowed the quartet to go.
The men in the break were Manuele Mori (UAE), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo – Oscaro) and Yohann Gène (Direct Energie) and once clear they were allowed to get lead of 3’30”, which was the most they weer allowed all day as the peloton kept them on a tight leash.
The stage was another one that was destined to end in a bunch sprint as the race made it’s way around central France, with just one intermediate sprint in Chanceaux (108km) and one categorised climb at the Cote de d’Urcy (Cat 4 – 147km), but the potential for crosswinds meant that the peloton were reluctant to let a breakaway get too large an advantage.
Once the four leaders had rolled through the intermediate sprint with Mori taking full honours, the sprinters competed once again for points behind. Colbrelli was keen to make up for mis-timing his sprint in the intermediate sprint on Stage 6 and took maximum points in the best of the rest; Kristoff, Greipel, Stybar, Matthews and maillot verde Demare all claimed points to keep the points classification open.
The peloton were content to gradually bring the gap down to 2’30” as the leaders went over the top of the Cote d’Urcy with Bouet taking the only KOM point, with Fabio Aru remaining in the polka-dot jersey.
Despite the threat of crosswinds none actually materialised, but the peloton were still wary of letting the four leaders get too much of a lead and with 50km left to race the gap was still holding steady at around 2’30”.
With 40km to go the peloton had begun to reel the break in with the GC teams featuring prominently at the front of the race along with QuickStep, FDJ and Cofidis; the time gap up to the quartet now hovering around the 1′. This was slowly drained as the peloton geared up for the sprint finish and with 20km left to race the break had an advantage of just 20″, with the catch imminent.
The breakaway wasn’t finished yet though and van Baarle decided to reinvigorate the other three and launch another attack, pushing their lead back out to 40″ with 15km to go.
With 11km to go the GC teams moved aside and allowed the sprint teams of QuickStep, Katusha-Alpecin and LottoNL-Jumbo to move to the front of the race with the break’s gap back down to just 23″ with 10km to go.
With 8km to go the break began to attack each other as the gap came down to less than 10″ and the peloton had them in their sights. The catch was made with 6km to go as Katusha and Direct Energie leading the peloton into the final 5km.
With 4km to go FDJ and QuickStep moved up into position for Demare and Kittel with Cofidis on the wheels of FDJ for Bouhanni. With 3km to go Katusha were still leading the peloton for Kristoff as Dimension Data also moved into position near the front of the bunch.
With 2km to go Sunweb made an appearance near the front for Matthews with FDJ taking over at the front of the race as lead out men began to pull off as Dimension Data took over at 1km to go. Dimension Data’s lead didn’t last long as QuickStep led out the final few hundred metres but Dimension Data took over again from Boasson Hagen, who launched his sprint with 200m to go with Kittel, Matthews and Kristoff all lunging for the line.
Boasson-Hagen and Kittel crossed the line at the same time, with Kittel taking the stage by less than the width of a tyre from the Norwegian.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 6: Troyes>Nuit-Saint-Georges 213.5km
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Marcel Kittel (QuickStep – Ger)||5:05:34″|
|2||Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension Data – Now)||s.t.|
|3||Michael Matthews (Sunweb – Aus)||s.t.|
|4||Alexander Kristoff (Katusha – Nor)||s.t.|
|5||John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo – Ger)||s.t.|
|6||Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo – Ned)||s.t.|
|7||Rudiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe – Ger)||s.t.|
|8||Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis – Fra)||s.t.|
|9||Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal – Ger)||s.t.|
|10||Daniel Mclay (Fortuneo-Oscaro – GBr)||s.t.|
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||18:38:59″|
|2||Geraint Thomas (Team Sky – GBr)||+12″|
|3||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||+14″|
|4||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||+25″|
|5||Richie Porte (BMC – Aus)||+39″|
|6||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott – GBr)||+43″|
|7||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||+47″|
|8||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo – Spa)||+52″|
|9||Nairo Quintana (Movistar – Col)||+54″|
|10||Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe – Pol)||+1’01″|