First of all, a fantastic win by Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), let’s say that first and foremost.
The Belgian was away all day then won the sprint from another two survivors of the big break of the day.
As a bonus, he takes the polka dot jersey, too.
De Gendt He’s tamed the Stelvio and (most of) the Ventoux – he just needs to win on the Angleru now…
But now we have to look at the sheer insanity of what happened behind De Gendt; Froome (Sky) counters then distances Quintana (Movistar) high on the Ventoux, Porte (BMC) and Mollema (trek) impress by matching Froome, the Dutchman even attacks him; but then…
Porte rides hard into the back of a TV camera motorbike which stops in front of him – apparently caused by the crowd spilling into the road – Froome and Mollema have no way of avoiding the pileup. Mollema manages to get mobile quickly but not Porte or Froome…
Froome attempts to wheel his bike but the broken right seat stay means it won’t wheel along, he’d have to carry it, so he throws it to an ASO moto and starts to RUN the climb before he can get a Mavic service bike which is next to useless, too small and with a different pedal system.
— kevin (@assekevin) July 14, 2016
— Lluís Agustí (@11uisagusti) July 14, 2016
He eventually gets a team bike but by that time he’s been passed by all of the leaders, including all the riders he’d just distanced.
Initially, Yates was announced as provisionally in yellow, Mollema second and Quintana third, before the race jury explained their decision; Froome and Porte to be given the same time as Mollema and Quintana, Valverde and Van Garderen the same time as Yates, meaning that Froome stays top on the GC.
The big break went early, took 19 minutes and with two hours and 80 K to go we have: Bertjan Lindeman and Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto-Jumbo), Stef Clement (IAM), Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot (DiData), André Greipel and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Bryan Coquard and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step), Chris Anker Sørensen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Dani Navarro and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) up the road.
There’s another group in between but six minutes back from the break – it’s unlikely they’ll have an impact but here they are: Diego Rosa (Astana), Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac), Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and Paul Voss (Bora)
Vik tips Pauwels; but Navarro and De Gendt can get over the climbs on their day.
However, the peloton has stirred and they’ve hauled back several minutes on the outcasts even though the peloton has exploded in the wind.
Giant’s Barguil is a casualty – it’ll be hard for him to get back.
It’s Etixx doing the damage, Daniel must be feeling frisky – even Kittel is on the front.
We’re down towards 50 K to go now and the gap is 11 minutes – Aru changes bikes and has to turn himself inside out to get back.
The peloton is massively reduced; Sagan is having the day off but Pinot won’t be happy he’s way back like this.
The break breasts the day’s first climb, the Cote des Gordes, a cat. four with De Gendt taking the points.
The Etixx boys aren’t renowned climbers and BMC take over on point on the Cote with the gap under nine minutes.
Orica assist – they want to keep Barguil and Meintjes out of the picture; both riders having lost ground in the cross winds and are rivals for Yates shiny white jersey.
The break tops the cat, three Col de Trois Termes with De Gendt again taking the points.
In the peloton the rear door is open, two Treks, one is Theuns, Mat Hayman (Orica), Tony Martin (Etixx) all exit.
It’s Gerrans (Orica) doing the damage, Young Yates must fancy his chances as one by one the six from ‘No Man’s Land’ are reeled in with less than 40 K to go.
There’s just one categorised climb now and everyone knows what that is…
Gerrans goes down on the descent and Ian Stannard gets pulled down too – they’ll be sore boys tonight.
In the break, Coquard has been shed and the crash has cause the gap to go out again – 8:53 with 29.5 K to go.
The ‘knock off’ in the peloton has allowed the group which was off the back to close up again.
Gerrans has made it back to the peloton – shredded.
The break has nine minutes plus now; one of them can win this.
Movistar and F des J – simply to show the colours – now lead the peloton, 22.6 K to go with the gap @ 9:44 and that’s not coming back.
Aru changes bikes again as the Giant of Provence looms.
Movistar’s is the predominant jersey at the front of the peloton with inside 10 K to Bedoin and the base of the mountain.
Bedoin for the escapees now as the trees ripple in the strong wind.
Greipel attacks – no, it’s not a misprint, the big German Champion is clear, en seule.
But not for long, he finds reverse and is straight out of the break – it was fun…
Keisse pops; it’s not like the Kuipke, Iljo.
On the climb now, Sorensen pops then Van Marcke, he’s too big for this gig.
De Gendt, Pauwels, Navarro force it, they should be safe, the gap is still seven minutes.
Surprisingly, De Gendt pops with Navarro and Pauwels as the last men alive.
Sky is driving hard, Landa on point from Poels.
Froome is right there, Quintana too – Pantano (IAM) jumps from the maillot jaune group, Valverde counters, passes Pantano and heads up through the crazy crowds.
Thomas pops, then Nieve, then Rolland as Valverde comes back to the group.
Quintana attacks with 5.3 K to go but the gap is not yawning, Henao marks him for Sky.
Quintana again, closed down by Sky again.
Meanwhile, further up the climb it’s between Navarro and Pauwels – but De Gendt has clawed his way back and actually attacks!
Martin has popped from the jaune group as Poels drives – which is still quite sizeable for a stage like this.
Froome, Quintana, Valverde, Porte, Yates, van Garderen, Barguil, Mollema, Bardet, Rodriguez, Aru – all there.
De Gendt has three K to go as Pauwels measures the effort to get back up to him.
Barguil pops – Martin and Kreuziger are even further back.
Still Poels grinds it out for Sky, Henao right behind him.
Pauwels has made it up to De Gendt and GOES – the Lotto man neutralises him.
Froome attacks and splits the group; only Porte and Quintana can cover him – but the Columbian slips off the pace…
Mollema jumps clear as Porte drives it ahead with Froome.
Navarro has battled back up to Pauwels and De Gendt, three men in it for the win.
Mollema meantimes has made it up to Froome and Porte – very impressive.
De Gendt leads out in a big gear, Navarro pops, Pauwels can’t respond and it’s the Lotto man who wins and might even take the polka dot jersey after three sets of points, today.
Mollema attacks Froome and Porte – respect!
Froome looks as bad as ever but probably looks that way riding to the paper shop.
Porte drives it (sorry Tejay), then – CRASH!
Porte is off the bike. He’s ridden into the TV bike which has had to brake – crazy!
Froome is now running up the climb – Madness!
He’s waiting on a team mate for a bike and letting the race pass so his team car can reach him.
Mollema was the only one of the three who was able to ride on.
Froome is now on a daft Mavic ‘service’ bike which he can’t clip into.
He abandons it as the team car arrives and gives him a real bike – Henao leads him up and home but well back now.
On provisional finish times we now have Yates in yellow from Mollema and Quintana with Froome sixth.
There’s no ‘three kilometre rule’ today but many will press for the times to be taken at the point of the crash – and if you were being a real pedant you could argue that Froome has covered part of the course WITHOUT his bike.
NEVER have I seen anything like this…