The Tour of France has left Belgium. The stage started in Seraing, near the city of Liège, where King Filip had the honour to lower the flag for the unofficial start. The riders next moved westwards, passing through Francophone Belgium, to enter France to start the final with a number of cobble-stone sections covering some 15 km.
Belgium had two riders with particular ambitions for this "mini-Paris-Roubaix" as some called it (though specialist cobble-stone riders labelled this as exaggerated): Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke.
West-Fleming Vanmarcke had two punctures when the heat was on, on the worst possible moments. Van Avermaet was the highest-ranked Belgian at the start in 5th place, 28 seconds behind leader Chris Froome. His secret dream of winning the stage and getting hold the yellow leader's jersey did not become true though: he was in the main group that was in front in the final, but then Toni Martin slipped away. His 4th place was hardly a consolation after taking yet another top-10 place.
Chris Froome revelation of the day
Cycling fans had high expectations before this stage, but the main favourites stayed together and none of the favourites really lost time, except for the French hopes Pierre Roland and Thibaut Pinot.
Tour favourite Chris Froome (Team Sky) popped up as the revelation of the day, doing particularly well on the cobbles, but probably didn't really mind to let the yellow jersey (and the hard work that comes with it) to someone else.
It's a well-deserved double for Toni Martin, who had just missed the yellow on two occasions in the last two days.