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Friday’s Stage 7 of the 2021 Tour de France presented a long and painful test for the peloton. At 249 kilometers it was the longest Tour stage in 21 years. And with plenty of short and steep climbs near the finish, the day packed in a punch.
As the miles took their toll on the field, several of the GC favorites including last year’s runner-up Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visam) showed the strain of the first week of racing, while others like Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team-Emirates) climbed the GC or maintained their position.
Here’s what the stars said after stage 7 of the 2021 Tour de France:
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma): 65th at 9:03
Roglič, last year’s runner-up, crashed heavily on stage 3 when he tangled bars with Sonny Colbrelli.
While we’re accustomed to seeing the Slovenian in a race leader’s jersey, Roglič has yet to don one at this year’s Tour, and his chances of nabbing yellow were made slimmer when he ceded nearly four minutes to his rivals on the stage.
“I was quite lucky with some easier stages and today we will see how it goes. For sure I will fight, and I will have to get through,” he said. “The main pain is in my back and my tail bone because I crashed really hard on my back and my ribs. This is the most painful and annoying.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), 19th at 5:15
On paper this was a stage that appeared custom-fit for Alaphilippe. Instead, the Frenchman saw his teammate Kasper Asgreen ride into the breakaway and battle for the win. Alaphilippe stayed in the bunch and saved his legs for this weekend’s stages in the Alps.
“For today, it was a really hard day,” Alaphilippe said. “For us it was a good situation with Kasper, he tried for the stage win, and Mark (Cavendish), he took some points for the green jersey. At the end I suffered a lot so I was happy to stay at the front of the group. I continue to take it day after day. Until now I feel good but the day it will be too hard and I cannot follow, I will see to see what I can do. But yeah, I have no stress. I enjoy day after day, and it’s going to be a really hard weekend.”
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): 4th at 1:40
Van der Poel has been in yellow since stage 2. He outperformed his own expectations in the time trial Wednesday and has even led out teammates in the sprint stages.
Today, he was in the 28-man break and even made a dash for the line to try to land on the stage podium and nab some precious seconds on a time bonus. He’s acutely aware that he’ll have a tough time holding onto the race lead once the Tour takes on Alpine climbs.Van der Poel has been in yellow since stage 2. He outperformed his own expectations in the time trial Wednesday and has even led out teammates in the sprint stages.
“It’s obvious that I will not have the yellow jersey tomorrow. I am not here for the GC. I just wanted to keep it one more day. I was following the wheels and risking all day. I’m really happy with the result and I could keep the jersey. It was just a brutal day. I just wanted to keep the jersey one more day. I may never have it again.”
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers): 41st at 5:15
"It's easy to talk myself round, saying I'm okay, but it was a big old crash." 💔
Another tough day for injured Geraint Thomas. He spoke to Daniel at the finish ⤵️
— ITV Cycling (@itvcycling) July 2, 2021
Thomas, the winner of the 2018 Tour de France was one of four Ineos Grenadiers GC hopes before the start of the Tour.
These hopes crashed with Thomas when the British rider went down on stage 1 and dislocated his shoulder. He’s been struggling since, but hopes to help teammate Richard Carapaz as the Tour heads into the first of the mountain stages.
“We hoped that UAE would have to ride all day, and they did. It was a tough day, the last 80km, it was just racing behind for position, and some tough climbs in the end.
“‘Billy’ [Carapaz] is still there and we can do [it]. Movistar chased hard in the last 10km to bring back ‘Billy’.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates), 26th, at 5:15
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) July 2, 2021
Pogačar kept his powder dry on the stage and limited his losses. Everyone’s guess is that he’s saving his legs for the Alpine stages to come.
While he lost several positions on the GC, he’s one of the best climbers in the business, and with two weeks of racing remaining, the young Slovenian has plenty of opportunities to regain his overall standing.
“I knew it was going to be hard when they attacked in crosswind, but I’m super proud of the team. I can’t be the strongest every day.”
“Maybe we made a [tactical] mistake, but we didn’t let them get too far ahead.”