The 29-year-old Italian booked a place into a group that took off 30 kilometers from the start.
Only the opening 30 kilometers of Friday's stage, at 222.5 kilometers in length the longest one of the 2017 edition, were nervous, as dozens of riders pushed the pedal to the medal in order to make it into the break, which everyone predicted since yesterday that it will go all the way to the line in Salon-de-Provence, the town of the famous Nostradamus.
Julien Vermote – one of the race's unsung heroes – was among those trying to get clear, but despite the move holding a 30-second gap at one point, the seven riders didn't get too much leeway, so it all came back over the top of the day's first categorized climb, Col de Lebraut. Eventually, 20 riders snapped the elastic and went as far as establishing a 12-minute gap over the bunch, who decided to take it slow ahead of the Marseille individual time trial.
Gianluca Brambilla – a Tour de France debutant – was part of the group from which Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) emerged victorious after a late solo attack. Brambilla, who did his fair share of work in the large group at the front and took some long turns on the flat and windy roads of Provence, concluded the stage in 13th place, advancing several position in the general classification, where Dan Martin continues to sit in sixth place.
"I wanted to try something because the legs were there. Everybody worked in the breakaway and in the final attacks started pouring in. Unfortunately, I missed the right one and I'm a bit disappointed, as I felt that I had some cards to play in the finale. I know it would have been difficult to win, but a there was a chance and I would have loved to be there and try to take it", Gianluca Brambilla explained at the finish in Salon-de-Provence, where the Tour de France arrived for the first time in history.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele