Tour de France - Trentin edges Sagan by a nose on another day of crashes

Italy's Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) edged Slovakia's Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in a hectic photo finish in stage seven of the Tour de France.

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Tour de France - Trentin edges Sagan by a nose on another day of crashes
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Italy's Matteo Trentin (2nd Up) crosses the finish line ahead of Slovakia's Peter Sagan (AFP)

A calamitous finale of the 294km stage from Epernay saw numerous riders hit the deck - including Belgium's Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) and American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) - before Trentin held off a late charge by the green jersey Sagan to secure his team's first win of the race by the narrowest of margins.

Sagan might have fared better had he not attacked on the second of two fourth-category climbs six kilometres from the finish. Sagan crossed the summit with a small gap alongside Belgium's Greg van Avermaet (BMC) but the pair were caught with just one kilometre remaining after a fast descent off the back of the Cote de Boufflers.

The streamlined pack - which contained the Italian race leader Vincenzo Nibali of Astana - was further whittled down after a crash on the final bend took out van den Broeck, one of the race favourites. Then, just as Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski was leading out Trentin for his final surge, Talansky drifted across the road and clipped the wheel of Australia's Simon Gerrans.

While Talansky - the winner of last month's Criterium du Dauphine race - hit the deck at top speed, Gerrans managed to stay on his feet. But the Orica-GreenEdge rider had the wind taken out of his sails and had to settle for fifth place behind Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano).

Such was Sagan's late surge that Trentin congratulated his opponent after apparently missing out on the victory. But the photo finish showed that Trentin was the victor by less than a centimetre - a welcome boost for his team following the withdrawal of their sprinter Mark Cavendish in stage one. It was 24-year-old Trentin's second victory on the Tour after last year's maiden win in Lyon.

BMC had two men in the top ten - Daniel Oss for fifth and van Avermaet in tenth - but otherwise suffered a bad day after American Tejay van Garderen crashed inside the final 15km and crossed the line just over a minute down.

Race leader Nibali dodged the debris to retain his two-second lead over team-mate Jakob Fuglsang ahead of the first summit finish of the race on Saturday.

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SIX-MAN BREAK: Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche) broke clear shortly after the start of the second longest stage of the race.

With the Cannondale team of Peter Sagan controlling the chase, the break were never gifted more than a four-minute cushion as the race passed by the war memorials of Verdun to pay its respects to those soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War.

Elmiger and Hazarski rode clear of their fellow escapees with 45km remaining before they eventually suffered the same fate as their four counterparts on the slopes of the Cote de Manon, 20km from the finish.

The first of two climbs saw an attack by Frenchman Thomas Voeckler - but the Europcar veteran was reeled in by the pace-setting of Orica-GreenEdge. It was on the descent of the climb that American Van Garderen touched wheels with team-mate Darwin Atapuma and the pair went down hard. The Colombian was forced out of the race while Van Garderen was forced to chase back onto the peloton on team-mate Peter Velits' bike.

Cyril Gautier of Europcar attacked on the final climb but was reeled in by Tinkoff-Saxo's Nicolas Roche before Sagan and van Avermaet made their move near the summit.

RIDER OF THE DAY: Matteo Trentin may have taken a welcome - and much needed - win for Omega Pharma-Quick Step. But Peter Sagan must be commended for a seventh consecutive top five finish on the Tour - an astounding run dating back to the Grand Depart in Yorkshire. In retrospect, the Slovakian will rue attacking on the final climb - but he did so to cover a move from his direct rival, van Avermaet. That he still has enough fuel in the tank to contest the final sprint - and come within a whisker of winning - simply underlines the class of the rider who is a shoo-in for a third successive green jersey in Paris.

DAY TO FORGET: Dutchmen Stef Clement and Danny van Poppel both abandoned the race, the Belkin rider after an early crash and Trek's Tour debutant - the youngest rider in the race - owing to a nagging knee injury. They were joined later by Colombian Darwin Atapuma after his crash in the final 15km. But it was Atapuma's BMC team-mate Tejay van Garderen who was the big loser, falling in the same incident and crossing the finish line 1:03 down on the state winner. Another American, Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp, will also no doubt rue his needless high-speed fall in the home straight. Switzerland's Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) was amongst other casualties.

COMING UP: The race enters the Vosges mountain range on Saturday with the Tour's first summit finish. The 161km ride from Tomblaine to Gerardmer la Mauselaine concludes with three punchy Cat.2 climbs including the Col de Grosse Pierre - which peaks out at 16 percent - ahead of the final rise to the finish. A break could probably go the distance - although we could see the likes of Rui Costa (Lampre), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) coming out to play.

PLAT DU JOUR: The region of Alsace has Germanic roots and so what best that suggest the French take on sauerkraut - a tasty brine-heavy dish called Choucroute. It's basically a hearty dish of boiled cabbage, gammon, sausage, potatoes and cloves - something that tastes infinitely better than it sounds. Interestingly, the French expression 'pédaler dans la choucroute' is used to denote making very little progress - or swimming against the tide. It's not to be confused with 'pédaler dans le cassoulet', which is a popular pastime in the south-west of France.

STAGE IN A SENTENCE: Crashes galore as Sagan is denied once again with Trentin victorious and Tejay losing out.

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