After Edward Theuns yesterday, it was another young Belgian in the limelight today. Jasper Stuyven of Trek-Segafredo, the team of Fabian Cancellara, was part of the breakaway of the day on the hilly roads in Normandy.
Stuyven left his two breakaway companions behind in the final 10 km, to set up a solo effort. However, he still had the tough Côte de la Glacerie to climb. Stuyven, an excellent time trialler, proved what he is capable of in the semi-classic race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne last spring. Cancellara, watching the stage on TV, sent a tweet to encourage his young team mate.
However, the peloton was raging like hell. Stuyven did manage to reach the top of the climb alone, securing himself of the polkadot tricot and a place on the podium after the race. He continued his solo effort, but the bunch was hot on his heels and gobbled him up just 450 metres from the end.
In an uphill finish, Peter Sagan beat Julian Alaphilippe to claim the stage win (photo below), snatching the yellow leader's jersey from Mark Cavendish. Greg Van Avermaet, who had high ambitions for this stage, only managed 6th place, just behind Chris Froome.
"Mainly disappointed. This was a huge chance"
Speaking after the race Stuyven said that he was happy with the mountains jersey, but that he was more disappointed he missed the stage win. "This was a huge opportunity. (...) I really believed in my chances, but the peloton was really strong. The climb was okay at the start, but the second, steeper part broke my rhythm."