It was the French national holiday on "14 Juillet" today, but Flemings ruled on the flanks of the arduous Mont Ventoux. The stage had been shortened: the finishline had been drawn at the station of Chalet Reynard, some 6.5 km from the top, due to the battering mistral wind.
Thomas De Gendt, a specialist of long breakaways, once again took his chance early in the 178 km stage that started in Montpellier. A large group of a dozen riders took the lead, but on the final climb of the Mont Ventoux (the south climb from Bédoin), it was down to 3 men eventually: De Gendt, Antwerp rider Serge Pauwels and Daniel Navarro of Spain.
Pauwels and De Gendt managed to get rid of the Spaniard, but he returned in the final kilometres. However, in a long powerful sprint, De Gendt outsprinted his two companions to claim a prestigious win.Pauwels came second, Navarro third.
De Gendt reclaims Polkadot Jersey
The victory also allowed De Gendt to take the polkadot jersey of King of the Mountains, snatching it from Frenchman Thibaut Pinot.
Speaking after the race, De Gendt said he dedicated this victory to Stig Broeckx, a team mate of the Lotto team who is still in a coma after a massive crash - also involving motorcycles - during the Belgium Tour.
Froome seen running uphill
The race was marked by a special incident in the group of favourites. Leader Chris Froome (Sky) had accelerated and left his rival Nairo Quintana behind. Froome was together with Bauke Mollema and Richie Porte when the motorbike just in front of them had to brake hard for a spectator.
The 3 crashed into to motorbike: Mollema managed to continue, just like Porte (although he lost more time), but the biggest victim was Froome. He couldn't use his bicycle, left it behind and started jogging towards the finish, waiting for his team car to assist him and bring a new bike. A yellow bicycle from the 'neutral' was of no use to him due to the click pedals. Froome lost a substantial amount of time.