With three hilltop finishes in a row for the first three days of racing, the rouleurs in the peloton would be happy this morning when opening the road book and seeing a flat finish, with only one categorised during the day. However, the parcours rolled throughout the stage so it wouldn’t be a straightforward day in the saddle and with a tired peloton, there was always a chance that a breakaway could survive until the end.
Consequently, from the flag drop there was a big fight in the bunch to form the day’s breakaway, with numerous teams and riders attempting to get clear. The battle was so intense and the attacks so constant that it took for over half of the stage for a trio of riders to gain an advantage over the peloton.
With the bunch tired from their efforts in the opening half of the day, the breakaway quickly managed to build a gap of three minutes. Those ahead continued to work well and combined with the peloton being directed the wrong way behind; the gap increased even further, out to almost five minutes. Their advantage did begin to tumble in the last 20 kilometres as the climbs, both categorised and uncategorised continued, but it would be too late for the peloton and the breakaway would hold on to take the stage win.
Behind in the bunch, Leah Kirchmann delivered a strong kick to the line coming “second” in the sprint between the peloton, finishing the day with a good fifth place. With the gap to the breakaway coming down drastically in the finale, Juliette Labous also holds onto the white jersey for another stage.