Sepp Kuss claimed his second ever stage victory as he triumphed at the Tour de France on Sunday, with Tadej Pogacar keeping control of the yellow jersey.

Jumbo-Visma's Kuss, who came into this year's Tour as a support rider for Primos Roglic, took his chance on the final, steepest climb of Stage 15, with around 20km of the 191.3km route into Andorra remaining.

The American rider – who won his previous Grand Tour stage in the 2019 Vuelta a Espana and is based in Andorra – held off competition from Alejandro Valverde, who looked good heading into the final descent of the day, only to burn out before he could catch Kuss.

Wouter Poels, who will take the polka dot jersey off Michael Woods, clinched third place in a sprint finish that also included Nairo Quintana.

Meanwhile, Pogacar expertly handled the general classification group, with Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) unable to close the gap.

It was a bad day for Guillaume Martin, who dropped from second in the GC to down to ninth, almost eight minutes adrift of Pogacar.

"I was really suffering a lot in this tour, I just didn't feel like I had the spice in the legs," said Kuss.

"Today I knew it was finishing where I live, I was really motivated for the stage and finally I had really good legs again, I'm so happy. 

"It was a hard day in the breakaway, I know the climb fairly well, I don't ride it so much in training because it's so hard. I knew the beginning was really tough, if I went there and got a gap I could try and hold it to the finish."

Supp's aim will now be to back Jonas Vingegaard, who kept Jumbo-Visma's dwindling GC hopes alive by moving himself into third, though he is still some way back from defending champion Pogacar.

STAGE RESULT

1. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 5:12:06
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:23
3. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) +1:15
4. Ion Izagirre (Astana) same time
5. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education First) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 62:07:18
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 207
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 74
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 66
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 64

What's next?

Monday sees the final rest day of this year's race, with Le Tour resuming with a 169km route from Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens on Tuesday.

Bauke Mollema reigned supreme as the Tour de France entered the Pyrenees, storming to a superb solo victory on stage 14 from Carcassonne to Quillan.

Mollema secured a second Tour win after his triumph on the ride to Le Puy-en-Velay in 2017, with this success coming in similar fashion.

The Dutchman made a decisive break, riding the final 40 kilometres out on his own at an average speed of 43.4km/h for that section, while he took on the last 25km in solitary fashion four years ago.

"Its super nice. It's amazing to win a stage again, I'm super happy," said a Trek-Segafredo's Mollema after prevailing by one minute and four seconds from Patrick Konrad and Sergio Andres Higuita in second and third respectively on the 183.7km route.

"It was as super hard day. It took so long until the break finally went

"It was a nice group but we were not working together so well. So I thought, 'let's go'. I did like 45km alone so it was hard, but I'm super happy."

Guillaume Martin came in +1:28 down in the chasing group, an effort that saw him move up to second in the general classification.

Martin, of Cofidis, is the only rider within five minutes of reigning champion Tadej Pogacar in the Yellow Jersey, making up enough time on the final climb of the Col de Saint-Louis to drop Rigoberto Uran down to third.

Michael Woods and Wout Poels were part of the 14-rider breakaway from which Mollema emerged and pushed their King of the Mountains claims, battling for points in each of the classified climbs.

Israel Start-Up Nation's Woods claimed the haul he needed to take the lead in that contest from Nairo Quintana and Poels, even if this success was somewhat tempered by him crashing on the descent of the Col du Castel.

Once the Canadian re-joined the breakaway it soon became clear he and his colleagues had no answer to Mollema.

STAGE RESULT

1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 04:16:29
2. Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:04
3. Sergio Andres Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) +1:04 
4. Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1:06
5. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) +1:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 56:50:12
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +4:04
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 187
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 54
2. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
3. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 49

What's next?

Sunday's 15th stage is set to be a particularly gruelling affair, with three category one climbs included in the 191.3km ride from Ceret to Andorre-la-Vieille. The second of those is Port d'Envalira, the highest point on this year's Tour at 2,408m above sea level.

Mark Cavendish's incredible return to the Tour de France continued as he matched Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage triumphs.

Cavendish, who won his first stage at the most famous of the grand tours back in 2008, has been one of the great success stories of this year's edition.

And, with two flat runs of the race to spare, the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider scooped his fourth stage win of 2021 to equal Merckx's haul.

The Belgian great – a five-time Tour de France winner – set the record between 1969 and 1975.

Cavendish's record-equalling success came in Carcassonne at the culmination of stage 13's 220km route, with his team-mates executing a perfect lead-out in the final 1,500m.

Having established himself at the front of the peloton, Cavendish had to change his bike with around 35km to go, yet rallied back to be in place for the final push.

It came courtesy of Michael Morkov, who timed his burst to perfection, giving Cavendish the opportunity to sprint through the gap and clinch his record-equalling win in a photo finish, also becoming the first rider to win four stages of Le Tour at the age of 36 in the process.

Cavendish could yet surpass the record, with two more sprints to come in the final week. He has previously won a record four times on the Champs-Elysees finale in Paris.

In the general classification standings, Tadej Pogacar's controlled ride kept him in command of the yellow jersey.

There was drama further back in the stage as a crash with around 55km remaining resulted in three abandonments, including former Vuelta e Espana winner Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange.

IT'S LIKE MY FIRST ONE

Cavendish's career at the top level seemed to be over. Indeed, he even hinted at retirement following a run of poor form and illness in 2020.

Yet the 2016 Olympic silver medalist has reaffirmed his place as one of the greats with this extraordinary comeback. 

"It's tiring. I can't even think about it, I'm so dead, 220km in that heat, that wind. I went deep there, so deep, the boys were incredible. I don't believe it," an exhausted Cavendish said.

"A lot of the day I didn't feel like it was going to happen. The guys were riding like they were – I was so on the limit, you saw at the end – slightly uphill. I was lucky the lads just played it calm, I lost a little bit with about five km to go, it got a bit slippy I thought I'd punctured, but everyone else was like "it's the road", but we had to take it easy, I just lost a bit.

Asked if he had realised what his win meant, Cavendish added: "It's just another win on the Tour de France, it's like my first one – I've won a stage at the Tour de France, that's what I dreamed of as a kid, it's what I dream of now and I work so hard for it.

"I just hope, we've seen such a growth in cycling since I've started racing here, if any one of my wins can inspire kids to ride the Tour de France when they grow up, that's what means the most to me."

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 05:04:29
2. Michael Morkov (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 
4. Ivan Garcia Conrtina (Movstar) 
5. Danny van Poppel (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux) 

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 52:27:12'
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 178
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 171

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 43
3. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42

What's next?

The Tour heads into the Pyrenees over the weekend, with Saturday's 183.7km route taking the riders over five categorised climbs.

German Nils Politt produced a mighty ride to win stage 12 of the Tour de France on the day his Bora-Hansgrohe team lost star man Peter Sagan from the race.

The 27-year-old Politt held his nerve and showed impressive endurance to cross the line first in Nimes, after a 159.4-kilometre largely flat stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux.

The maiden tour win for Politt provided succour for his team, after Slovakian Sagan withdrew before the start, the seven-time Tour points classification winner bowing out due to a knee injury.

Politt formed part of a four-man breakaway with Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ), Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) that splintered over the closing 15km.

Erviti, a 37-year-old Spanish rider and Tour mainstay for over a decade, was chasing his first stage win in cycling's most famous race. For a while it was on, but he ultimately crossed the line in second place, with Sweeny third and Kung eventually a distant fourth.

Politt said on Eurosport: "It's unbelievable. It's a dream to win a stage in the Tour de France. We had to decide that Peter had to leave the race because of his knee problems, so it changed also a little bit of tactics.

"I've been feeling well in the last days and was trying to give my best today. There was quite a lot of sprinters in our group and quite a lot of fast guys.

"I had to do the race hard and I had to attack quite early. There was the first attack with four guys gone. I did it again and to go solo to the finish line was unbelievable.

"It's my passion, cycling, and for my whole family, and I'm away from home so much because of training camps and races and now it's like the biggest win you can have, winning a stage on the tour."

The outcome at the front of the race had no substantial impact on the general classification standings, with Tadej Pogacar remaining over five minutes ahead of closest rivals Rigoberto Uran and Jonas Vingegaard, as the Tour heads towards the Pyrenees.

The bulk of the field arrived in Nimes almost 16 minutes behind Politt, with Mark Cavendish producing a sprint to lead the peloton over the line.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) 3:22:12
2. Imanol Erviti (Movistar) +0:31
3. Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal)
4. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) +1:58
5. Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange) +2:06

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 47:22:43
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 221
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 162
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 142

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 44
3. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42

What's next?

The 219km ride from Nimes to Carcassonne has all the hallmarks of a relatively straightforward stage before the teams head into the Pyrenees over the weekend.

Wout van Aert claimed a superb victory after Wednesday's unprecedented double climb of Mont Ventoux as Tadej Pogacar came through a stern examination of his bid for back-to-back Tour de France titles on stage 11.

It was the first time in Tour history that riders climbed the imposing and iconic Giant of Provence twice in the same stage and Belgium's Van Aert showed his superb all-round capabilities after finishing second to Mark Cavendish in the Green Jersey during Tuesday's sprint finish at Valance.

The Jumbo-Visma rider crested Ventoux first the second time around and then showcased his expert descending skills to claim an unforgettable first Tour win in five hours, 17 minutes and 43 seconds, ending the day triumphantly for his team after colleague Tony Martin suffered another painful fall and withdrew.

"I'm lost for words," Van Aert said. "It's stupid to say but I wanted to win this stage before the Tour de France.

"Maybe it's my best victory ever. If you believe in it everything is possible. It's emotional."

Pogacar's advantage is now five minutes and 18 seconds, ahead of Rigoberto Uran, with Australia's Ben O'Connor dropped by the Yellow Jersey group inside the final 30 kilometres to fall from second to fifth overall, behind fourth-placed Richard Carapaz and Van Aert's team-mate Jonas Vingegaard.

Vingegaard supplied the most dramatic moment of the day when he dropped Pogacar near the end of the second ascent and opened up a 37-second gap.

Pogacar was able to claw that back in the company of Uran and INEOS Grenadiers' Carapaz to cross the line in fourth – ahead of his Danish rival Vingegaard, who was given the same time of +1:38 having exposed hitherto unseen hints of weakness within the favourite's considerable armour.

World champion Julian Alaphilippe was the first over the summit of Ventoux on the initial climb but faded from contention.

Fans lining the route at least had something to cheer as Frenchman Kenny Elissonde crossed the line in second alongside Bauke Mollema – the Trek-Segafredo duo each clocking in at +1:14 behind Van Aert.

STAGE RESULT

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 5:17:43
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) +1:14
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1:14 
4. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +1:38
5. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +1:38

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 38:25:17
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 218
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 160
3. Jasper Philipsen  (Alpecin-Fenix) 142

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 44
3. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42

What's next?

After a day of hard toil, the sprinters can again be the main attraction on stage 12, with the 159.4km route from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Nimes expected to end in a bunched finish.

Mark Cavendish pocketed a 33rd Tour de France stage win in expert fashion in Valance, closing to within one of Eddie Merckx's all-time record.

The resurgent sprint great claimed his third win of this year's race and was quick to pay tribute to the lead-out work of his Deceuninck-Quick-Step team, who left him in prime position to see off Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen with 150 metres to go.

Cavendish has extended his advantage over Michael Matthews in the points classification to 59 and, provided the 36-year-old emerges from the Alps unscathed, he will have the tantalising prospect of pulling level with Merckx in Paris when the Tour concludes on July 18.

"It was an old-school, run-of-the-mill, like you read in the cycling magazines, textbook lead-out," Cavendish said. "Just getting the lads on the front, pull as fast as they can so no one can come past you.

"We knew this finish, I didn't make it the last time we came here in 2015, I got dropped, but we studied it and we knew if we took that last corner wide, we could keep the speed up.

"I'm just humbled. I've got the winner of the Tour of Flanders [Kasper Asgreen], the world champion who’s been in the yellow jersey here [Julian Alaphilippe], Michael Morkov, who's going to the Olympics to try to win the Madison, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner [Davide Ballerini] leaving everything on the road for me.

"I just had to finish it off. I’m grateful to all of them. I didn't have to do anything – just the last 150 metres. I'm thankful to everyone."

A stage that was always one for the sprinters to target meant, as expected, there was no change in the general classification picture, with Tadej Pogacar retaining his two minutes and one second lead over Ben O'Connor.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 4:14:07
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) 
5. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 38:25:17
2. Ben O'Connor (AG2R La Mondiale) +2:01
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 218
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 159
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 136

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42
3. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 39

What's next?

Pogacar has the chance to definitively stamp his authority all over this year's race during Wednesday's 198.9 kilometre stage from Sorgues to Malaucene, which features a double ascent of the infamously daunting Mont Ventoux.

Primoz Roglic has elected to abandon the Tour de France after a brutal first week.

The 2020 runner up – a pre-race favourite to take the famous yellow jersey – endured an opening eight stages marred by crashes and injuries.

He fell twice during the first three stages, badly bruising and grazing almost the entirety of his left side during an incident on stage three.

In a gruelling first Alpine stage on Saturday, Jumbo-Visma rider Roglic crossed in 175th, third to last, having dropped 35 minutes on the leaders, and on Sunday he decided to call time on his campaign.

"We took the decision altogether with the team. It doesn't make sense to continue the way it was going at the end," Roglic said in a statement from his team.

"Now we'll definitely try to recover and focus on the new goals."

Roglic came across the finish line on Saturday alongside 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, who has also seen his general classification hopes dashed after finishing 33 minutes off the pace.

Tadej Pogacar is now the clear favourite for the yellow jersey, following a remarkable ride from the 22-year-old defending champion on Saturday.

Tadej Pogacar grabbed the yellow jersey with a remarkable ride on stage eight of the Tour de France as pretenders to his crown floundered.

On the 150-kilometre stage from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand, won by Belgian Dylan Teuns, last year's champion Pogacar finished fourth and roared into first place in the general classification.

The 22-year-old Slovenian had trailed Mathieu van der Poel by three minutes and 43 seconds at the start of stage eight, but he now leads by 1min 48secs from Wout van Aert.

Van der Poel fell out of contention, trailing home 44th, 21:47 behind Teuns, to slide from first to 23rd overall, as the GC standings were given a vigorous shake-up.

The race turned as Van der Poel began to fall off the pace of a chasing group in the closing 35km and Van Aert initially followed, but Pogacar only grew in strength from that point.

Canadian Michael Woods had built a big lead as he reached the summit of the Col de Romme, over a minute clear of a chasing pack of four riders and three minutes and 40 seconds ahead of Pogacar.

Pogacar drew within 30 seconds of the lead with 15km remaining, passing Ion Izaguirre Insausti to leave Woods and Teuns as the only riders ahead of him, and soon only Teuns was denying him first place.

Teuns proved too strong, and Woods and Izaguirre Insausti edged ahead of Pogacar in the closing metres, but the defending champion had inflicted a brutal blow on a host of major rivals.

Pogacar said on Eurosport: "I just decided before the last three climbs and I said to my team-mates, 'Let's try to break the race', and we did it. Once I saw everyone was suffering... I just took off and tried to pace myself to the finish line and I'm pretty happy."

Pogacar was surprised there was little response from those with yellow jersey aspirations, who he claimed had tried and failed to break his challenge on the seventh stage, adding: "I thought they would show more today, but in the end I guess they were affected from yesterday and from today's cold and rain."

Teuns knew where Pogacar was in the closing kilometres and said his stage victory was a tribute to his late grandfather, touching his chest by his heart and point skywards.

He said: "We had the funeral just a few days before I had to go to the Tour so it was emotional for me, this last 10k."

Any hopes that Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic had of GC success were wiped out as all three finished over 30 minutes off the pace.

STAGE RESULT

1. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) 3:54:41
2. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:44
3. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0:47
4. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0:49
5. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) +2:33

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 29:38:25
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +01:48
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) +4:38

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 168
2. Michael Matthews (Team Bikeexchange) 113
3. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 103

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 23
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 16
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) 12

What's next?

The 144.9-kilometre ride from Cluses to Tignes will be another stiff test for the riders, with a mountain finish ahead of Monday's first rest day. Five major climbs await, including the 'hors categorie' ascent of the Col du Pre at around halfway.

Matej Mohoric triumphed in a gruelling stage seven of the Tour de France on Friday, as Primoz Roglic dropped more time in the battle for the yellow jersey.

The 249-kilometre route from Vierzon to Le Creusot, the longest stage of the race, featured five challenging climbs in the final 100km stretch, and saw the general classification contenders start to separate themselves from the chasing pack.

Mathieu van der Poel stayed in yellow as he increased his overall lead to 30 seconds, with the Alpecin-Fenix rider managing to keep pace with a 30-man breakaway.

Having gone clear alongside Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal) and Jesper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Mohoric – of Bahrain Victorious – stole a march 19km from the finish line when he powered away on the Signal d'Uchon.

While Mohoric raced clear on the final climb to claim a third stage win in a Grand Tour, following successes at the Vuelta a Espana in 2017 and Giro d'Italia in 2019, there was drama in the peloton as Richard Carapaz picked his moment to try and claw back time on Tadej Pogacar, who won Wednesday's time trial but here slipped from second to fifth in the GC standings.

Meanwhile, Roglic, the 2020 runner-up who was involved in a huge crash on stage three this year, lost further ground as he was dropped by the peloton altogether.

Ultimately Carapaz's efforts proved fruitless as he was swallowed up by the peloton just before the line, while, like Roglic, four-time champion Chris Froome also struggled in the heat.

It was Mohoric's day, and the Slovenian was in tears as he celebrated the most prestigious stage win of his career.

"I didn't think I could make it into the last climb. I was just riding for the jersey and said why not? Kilometre by kilometre I was still feeling OK. I couldn't believe it," said Mohoric, who also takes the polka dot jersey.

"I won in the Giro and the Vuelta but this is something else. It's the longest stage and I won the longest stage in the Giro and Vuelta. I am good on the long stages, not such a brutal effort, I can keep pace in these stages."

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish, who won stages four and six, kept hold of the green jersey thanks to winning the intermediate sprint.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) 5:28:20
2. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) +1:20
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) +1:40
4. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) +1:40
5. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1:40

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 25:39:17
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +00:30
3. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1:49

Points Classification
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 168
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 103
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 102

King of the Mountains
1. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) 11
2. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
3. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4

What's next?

After taking on the Tour's longest stage, the riders do not have life any easier on Saturday, as they head into the mountains for a 150km stage from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand.

Mark Cavendish outsprinted Jasper Philipsen and Nacer Bouhanni to claim his second stage win of this year's Tour de France.

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider followed up his stage four triumph with victory in Thursday's stage six from Tours to Chateauroux.

Cavendish's first stage win was in Chateauroux 13 years ago and he is now within two victories of the all-time record of 34, held by Eddy Merckx.

"It was nice. Wow," Cavendish said in his post-race interview. "It's 10 years since I last won here. It's pretty special and actually in pretty similar fashion today."

Asked if Merckx's record is in his sights, Cavendish said: "I am not thinking about anything.

"If it was my first or my 32nd, I have just won a stage of the Tour de France. That is what people ride their whole lives for."

Thursday's 160.6-kilometre ride was always likely to suit the sprinters and so that proved from the off with a high pace being set.

Greg van Avermaet and Roger Kluge led the breakaway but were caught by the peloton.

Cavendish positioned himself behind Philipsen and Tim Merlier and overhauled the pair in the last 100 metres.

Bouhanni attempted to snatch the win on the line but his late push came too late to stop Cavendish, who extends his lead over Philipsen to 46 points in the green jersey standings.

Philipsen's Alpecin-Fenix team-mate Mathieu van der Poel retained the yellow jersey, meanwhile, with no changes to the general classification after Thursday's leg.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar is eight seconds back ahead of stage seven, which will take the riders from Vierzon to Le Creusot and contains a number of lumpy climbs.

It was also confirmed that Tour de France organisers have withdrawn their complaint against a spectator who caused a big crash on the opening stage.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 3:17:36
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) same time
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) same time
4. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) same time
5. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 20:09:17
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +00:08
3. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +00:30

Points Classification
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 148
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 102
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) 99

King of the Mountains
1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3

Defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar claimed victory in Wednesday's stage five time trial as Mathieu van der Poel held on to the yellow jersey.

Pogacar prevailed in the final time trial to effectively secure his triumph last year and proved his prowess in the format again to surge up the general classification standings.

The riders had to deal with wet conditions along the 27.2 kilometre route from Change to Laval but Pogacar handled them superbly to top the timesheets.

Pogacar won three stages during last year's race and secured his first success of 2021 with a time of exactly 32 minutes.

It was one nobody could get close to, with Stefan Kung 19 seconds adrift in second and Jonas Vingegaard a further eight back.

But Van der Poel maintained his advantage in the GC as he took fifth place behind Wout van Aert. 

The Alpecin-Fenix rider was 31 seconds off the pace but his overall lead remains eight seconds, as it was after stage four.

However, Pogacar is now the man in second place, replacing home hope Julian Alaphilippe, who finished a minute and 11 seconds behind Pogacar in 14th.

Stage six, a 160.6km ride from Tours to Chateauroux, is likely to be one for the sprinters but Van der Poel, the winner of the only mountain stage so far, should have high hopes of doing more damage on stage seven when things will again favour the climbers.

STAGE RESULT

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 32:00
2. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) +00:19
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +00:27
4. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) +00:31

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 16:51:41
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +00:08
3. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +00:30

Points Classification
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 89
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 84
3. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 78

King of the Mountains
1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3

Mark Cavendish claimed an emotional victory to cap a fourth stage in the Tour de France that had begun with a rider protest.

Sprint legend Cavendish claimed his 31st stage win – albeit this was his first since 2016 – as he came through in a battle for the line to round out a 150.4-kilometre journey from Redon to Fougeres.

Clearly overwhelmed at his achievement, the British rider struggled for words during his post-race interview, admitting he feared there would be no further opportunities to add to his impressive career tally at Le Tour.

His place on the Deceuninck–Quick-Step squad only came about after an injury to Sam Bennett, the unexpected chance allowing the 36-year-old to end a drought spanning four years and 348 days thanks to a trademark strong finish.

"I don't know what to say. Just being here is special enough, I didn't think I'd ever get to come back to this race," Cavendish – who now sits three wins short of Eddy Merckx's all-time stage record – told the media.

"So many people didn't believe in me, but these guys do. 

"I thought I was never coming back to this race, honestly. When you come to Deceuninck–Quick-Step, they've got the best riders in the world. The stars aligned somehow."

The drama at the end of proceedings came after the peloton had staged a protest as soon as Tuesday's proceedings started, a collective move made to raise concerns following a crash-filled Stage 3.

CPA Cycling - the association of active pro riders - issued a short statement on Twitter to explain the decision, with competitors hoping for a change to safety measures, including a change to the ruling over late accidents.

"At KM 0 of today's stage of the Tour de France, riders paused in solidarity as part of their calls for UCI to set up discussions to adapt the 3 km rule during stage races," CPA Cycling tweeted.

Primoz Roglic, who had suffered injuries after a heavy fall on Monday, was able to continue with the aid of plenty of strapping. Caleb Ewan was not so fortunate, however, as he was ruled out with a broken collarbone sustained after going down in the sprint, having tangled with Peter Sagan.

With the flat stage ideal for sprinters, Mathieu van der Poel was able to retain the yellow jersey. He remains eight seconds clear of Julian Alaphilippe.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 3:20:17
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic)
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)
4. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)
5. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 16:19:10
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:08
3. Richard Carparaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:31

Points Classification
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 89
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 82
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 78

King of the Mountains
1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3

Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglic and Peter Sagan were among the big names to crash during an incident-packed Stage 3 of the Tour de France, one that saw Tim Merlier take victory.

Aided by the work of his Alpecin–Fenix colleagues, Merlier was able to come out on top in a sprint finish, crossing the line ahead of team-mate Jasper Philipsen at the end of the 182.9-kilometre journey from Lorient to Pontivy.

"I'm living the dream, I think," the Belgian said in his post-stage interview.

"After the Giro d'Italia I wasn't really very happy, but now I've won a stage on the Tour - the biggest race in the world - I can't believe it."

Having won on Sunday, Mathieu van der Poel was seventh this time around as he retained the yellow jersey, making it a double celebration for the Alpecin-Fenix squad.

However, there was little to cheer about for 2018 winner Thomas, who suffered a shoulder injury following a heavy fall in the early going that saw Robert Gesink forced to retire from the race.

That was far from the end of the drama, though. Roglic came a cropper with just under 10km remaining, leading to him losing over a minute in the standings.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar's progress was then delayed by a mass pile-up not long after the breakaway group was caught, while Sagan's spillage came when he tangled with Caleb Ewan in the closing metres.

Pogacar sits in sixth place in the general classification, now 38 seconds behind Van der Poel. Julian Alaphilippe remains in second, while Richard Carapaz is up to third, sitting on the same time as Wout van Aert.


STAGE RESULT  

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 4:01:28
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic)
4. Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification 

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 12:58:53
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:08
3. Richard Carparaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:31

Points Classification 

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 80
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 62
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 50 

King of the Mountains 

1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3

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