Tour de France 2017: Marcel Kittel wins stage seven in photo finish

German grabs third stage win of 2017 race, beating Edvald Boasson Hagen by narrowest possible margin

Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) won stage seven of the 2017 Tour de France, edging out Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) in an extremely close photo finish to claim his third stage win.

Boasson Hagen, assuming sprinting duties for Dimension Data after Mark Cavendish’s broken shoulder forced him out, looked to have beaten the German after a superb lead-out from Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.

But Kittel came from behind in the final 75m and threw to the line to take victory by the smallest possible margins – the two separated by no more than a hair’s breadth.

Marcel Kittel beat Edvald Boasson Hagen in a photo finish to win stage seven of the 2017 Tour de France – by the narrowest of possible margins (pic: ASO)

Kittel’s victory was confirmed, however, ensuring the German will carry the green jersey into the mountains and level Erik Zabel’s national record of 12 Tour stage wins.

Michael Matthews finished third, while Dan McLay was the highest placed Brit in tenth place.

Chris Froome finished in the peloton, meanwhile, on a trouble-free day, to keep the yellow jersey, and Simon Yates likewise stays in white.

Marcel Kittel’s stage win was his third from the first seven stages of the 2017 Tour de France (pic – Sirotti)

Reflecting on the dramatic finale, Kittel admitted he thought he might run out of road.

“I really had no clue if I won or not,” he said. “On the finish line I just thought it would be close, so I just tried to make myself as long as possible [and throw for the line].

“I just had to pray that the door was opened on the right-hand side so I could pass Boasson Hagen and it was just enough.

“I am in great shape, and as a team we believed in this chance and this victory. Celebrating three stage wins already is incredible. I’m really happy.”

The stage proceeded mostly as expected prior to the thrilling finale, with a four-man break going clear – Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates), Yohann Gene (Direct Energie) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) the quartet.

The sprint teams controlled the tempo, giving Team Sky and Froome in yellow another easy ride as the advantage never got up above three-and-a-half minutes.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) was quickest at the intermediate sprint, showing impressive speed to win the kick from the peloton and send a message to his fellow fast-men.

Crosswinds had been feared, which made for a rapid tempo in the bunch as the kilometres ticked down but there was nothing forthcoming to cause any splits.

All it succeeded in doing was rapidly bring the gap down to the breakaway, and confirm it would all be ending a photo finish.

Marcel Kittel is now back in the green jersey (pic – Sirotti)

Van Baarle stubbornly hung on for a bit, but the handshake arrived with 6km to go and attention turned to the sprinters.

No team had a clear advantage as they jostled for position, with the speed ramping up to more than 65km/h, and tensions rose as Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) touched elbows.

Under the flamme rouge there was still no team in clear control of the bunch but all the sprint teams were present before Janse van Rensburg hit the front to deliver a monster lead-out.

He dropped Boasson Hagen off with less than 200m to go, and Kittel looked to have run out of road to overtake him, but found a turn of pace just in time to snatch victory.

Tour de France 2017: stage seven – result

1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – QuickStep Floors – 5.03.18hrs
2) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Dimension Data – ST
3) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Team Sunweb
4) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha-Alpecin
5) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo
6) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
7) Rudiger Selig (GER) – Bora-hansgrohe
8) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – Cofidis
9) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal
10) Dan McLay (GBR) – Fortuneo-Oscaro

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 28.47.51hrs
2) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +12″
3) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +14″
4) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +25″
5) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +39″
6) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +43″
7) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +47″
8) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +52″
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +54″
10) Rafal Majka (POL) – Bora-hansgrohe +1.01

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