Tour de France
Stage 7) Vierzon – Le Creusot
France Friday 02 July 2021 249.1 km
Tour de France: Asgreen moves onto overall podium
Traveling from Vierzon to Le Creusot over 249.1 kilometers and featuring around 3000 vertical meters, stage 7 of the Tour de France was the longest scheduled by the race in the last 21 years and witnessed a fierce battle right from the start as it had breakaway written all over it. It took more than an hour for a group to establish at the front, and when it did, Deceuninck – Quick-Step had two delegates there: Kasper Asgreen and Mark Cavendish.
The Dane played lead-out man for Cavendish some 110 kilometers into the stage at the intermediate sprint in Saint-Benin-d’Azy, who easily racked up 20 points that helped him increase his margin in the green jersey classification, which has been led by a Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider since the opening day of the race.
With around 60 kilometers to go, on Côte de Glux-en-Glenne, the group began fragmenting as a result of the numerous accelerations coming from the riders who were hoping to seize the day. Kasper Asgreen showed his intentions with two probing attacks, but each time he was reeled in by the sizeable group. Eventually, it was on Côte de la Croix de la Libération that a couple of riders managed to zip clear, opening up what turned out to be a decisive gap, and from that move Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) rode to a solo win in Le Creusot.
Behind, on Signal d’Uchon, the toughest climb tackled by the Tour de France so far at this edition, Kasper paced himself superbly and even moved to the front of the group as soon as the gradients ramped up to double-digits to apply pressure on his companions. Still having enough let in the tank, the Ronde van Vlaanderen champion attacked minutes later and joined a small group up the road inside ten kilometers to go, from where he finished fifth.
“The long stage and hot temperatures made for a really hard day out there. It was nice to be in the break with Mark and he was great, helping me with food, bottles and ice while also adding to his points tally. Then, when it came to crunch time, a group got away and we never again saw them. I tried to go several times, but the others were glued to my wheel, and it was only with a couple of kilometers left that I could finally get a gap. It was nice to be up there and in the mix, but I would have liked a bit more from this stage”, explained Kasper after the stage that took him up to third in the general classification.
All smiles at the finish, where he arrived a couple of minutes behind the small favourites group that contained World Champion Julian Alaphilippe, Mark Cavendish talked about his day at the front, at the end of which he took to the podium to collect the 29th green jersey of his career.
“It wasn’t planned to be there, but at one point I got this feeling that the elastic would snap, so I told Kasper ‘let’s go’ and we just rode full gas and made it into the break. Once the group formed, I had a look around and noticed there was no real competitor to the green jersey, so I just kept pushing and at the intermediate sprint picked up those 20 points. It’s nice that my buffer has increased, but I’m not thinking of winning it at the moment. We’ll continue to take it day by day and see what the weekend and the mountains bring.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images