Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) won stage 7 of the Tour de France, the longest stage of this year’s race at over 249km, from breakaway that also featured Team Qhubeka NextHash’s Victor Campenaerts.
Stage 7 of the Tour de France was the longest stage of the race, measuring in at just over 249km. The route from Vierzon to Le Creusot also including a significant number of climbing meters, including the first category 2 climb of the race which peaked with 17km to go.
As the nature of the course suited a breakaway, there was a big fight from the gun for teams to try and get their men into the decisive move. Team Qhubeka NextHash were very active and in fact, the first attacker of the day was Victor Campenaerts.
However the battle went on for over an hour, with Michael Gogl, Max Walscheid and Simon Clarke all also getting involved. Eventually a strong 29-rider group broke clear of the main pack and Campenaerts was on the right side of the split.
There was a big chase from the peloton as the yellow jersey Mathieu Van der Poel was also in the front group together with big names like Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) among others. Slowly the front group was able to break the spirit of the chase from the peloton with gap growing to just over 6-minutes.
With roughly 80km to go, the first attacks came from within the lead group and Mohoric went clear with Brent van Moer (Lotto-Soudal). With still most of the climbing to come, Campenaerts went on the offensive once more with 55km to go and had Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) in his wheel. The duo worked well together to bridge a 1-minute gap to the 2 leaders, making it 4 up front for the finale.
However, Campenaerts soon had to pay for his efforts when they hit the Cote de la Croix de la Liberation climb, with 30km to go, and was distanced by the trio. It was then on the following climb that Mohoric made the final stage defining move, going solo over the top of the category 2 climb.
Back in the general classification group, the fast start and tough course had taken its toll on many with a reduced group of just 30 riders left. Sergio Henao, the best placed on GC for Team Qhubeka NextHash, was part of this group.
Mohoric went on to claim a brilliant stage win with the main GC group coming home just over 5-minutes down. After Campenaerts had been caught by the chasing group, Henao would be our teams first finisher of the day, crossing the line in 27th place and maintained his 24th place on GC.
After such an arduous day, all Team Qhubeka NextHash riders completed the stage and will be focused on another opportunity that awaits tomorrow.
As it’s quite clear this year I’m focusing on classic races and breakaway stages and today was a braekaway. I’ve made a lot of improvements in these things but for me it’s quite clear what I’m still missing and it’s the endurance for a very long stage.
Today was hot and the pace was quite high all day and I just felt that I had to do something before the climbs and I came in quite a good position to get a good result to deliver a good result as both Mohoric and Stuyven were there. They did an incredible ride and I felt just that I was lacking in the end but I know what to improve on.
It was quite a hard stage given the weather conditions as well. It was really hot and the crucial part was the final 50km and by the time we got there was a lot of tired bodies in the bunch.
It was great to have Victor up in the breakaway. It changed the dynamics a bit for us but that was our plan but not often we do such long races – it was a hard day.
I think that for the first week the easy days are over. Tomorrow is about 3500m of climbing and then over 4000m on Sunday so it’s definitely going to be a hard weekend but I think everyone is starting to settle in nicely to the race and we’re still going to have a lot of surprises coming up and we look forward to the weekend.