A long and painful stage to close a long and painful first week of the Tour de France. One which should put an end to the hopes of Primoz Roglic but which ended with a first victory for his Slovenian compatriot Matej Mohoric.
It’s been 21 years since the race has progressed more in one day than during the seventh stage on Friday, when Mohoric won more than 249.1 km between Vierzon and Le Creusot.
It was too much for Roglic, second last year and one of the favorites this time around. It crashed on stage three and broke towards the end of a brutal race that included climbs of over 3000m.
Slovenian Matej Mohoric clinched an impressive victory on the seventh stage of the Tour de France
He lost nearly four minutes to defending champion Tadej Pogacar, who finished alongside other contenders including Geraint Thomas and his Ineos teammate Richard Carapaz.
Mathieu van der Poel finished fourth to retain the yellow jersey. His lead over Belgian Wout van Aert was 30 seconds, Mohoric climbing to fourth place, three minutes from the pace. Pogacar is another place and 42 seconds behind, with Carapaz 12th. Thomas, who is 13th, held on to his rivals but there were worrying signs before the race headed for the Alps.
“The last 80 kilometers were tough, I was just in pain,” said 2018 winner Thomas. “It takes a lot to get through every day. At least I stayed in there.
Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel extended his lead in the yellow jersey on Friday
Mohoric, of Bahrain Victorious, was part of a large group of breakaways that included Van der Poel and Briton Mark Cavendish – who strengthened his own grip on the green points jersey.
But the Slovenian escaped and reached Le Creusot with one minute and 20 seconds ahead of the Belgian Jasper Stuyven.
“I didn’t think I could qualify for the last climb,” admitted Mohoric. “Kilometer by kilometer, I always felt good. I could not believe it.
“I knew it was a good step for me. I won the Giro and the Vuelta, but it’s the Tour, it’s the biggest race. ‘