Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) won stage 7 of the Tour de France after he delivered a powerful sprint to beat Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the bunch finish in Chartres.
It was the second victory in the race for Groenewegen, who also won a sprint in last year's concluding stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
"I talked to everyone, " Sagan said when asked how he passed the time after finishing third in the mass sprint which, with its uphill finish, suited him.
The stage, the longest of this year's Tour, was ridden at such a serene pace at times it might have been mistaken for the first rest day.
"I knew I wouldn't make it back so it was about limiting the time loss", Dumoulin said.
Thomas's teammate Chris Froome slipped a few seconds behind the front group in the closing metres, but worse luck befell the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion, Tom Dumoulin, who lost the best part of a minute, after puncturing 5km from the finish.
Days like these are referred to as "transfer" stages, for moving the Tour from one area to the next - from Brittany to north-central France in this case, as the race winds toward Sunday's highly awaited cobblestoned leg to Roubaix near the Belgian border. Froome trails race leader Greg Van Avermaet by 1:02. "It's never good to lose time", said Bardet, who has finished on the podium in the past two Tours.
Great French hope Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and last year's Giro d'Italia victor Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) were the biggest losers among the overall favourites, losing 31 seconds and 53 seconds respectively. Pierre Latour 3. Alejandro Valverde 4.
"I was really relaxed all day - not over-confident, but looking forward to having a crack, looking forward to racing hard on the last climb".
"My first thoughts are that I hope my wife hasn't gone into labour", smiled Martin as he caught his breath.
Martin was one of several team leaders along with former Tour victor Vincenzo Nibali and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana who were caught off-guard by an attack by Quick-Step midway through the stage during a straightaway that was exposed to crosswinds.
Greg Van Avermaet held on to the yellow jersey he grabbed on stage three and doubled his lead over Geraint Thomas to six seconds by winning an intermediate bonus sprint.
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