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Saint Saveur de Montagut – Cruas (129km)
This was the queens stage of the race. Starting off with a 32 kilometre climb from the start to Mezilhac, followed by two more second category climbs and one third category climb, this stage was going to be the longest and hardest stage of the entire tour. On the first climb of the day the pace was relentless from the start, the longer the climb went on, the more the peloton splintered over the road.
At the front, a group of around 24 riders set the pace. Rapha Condor was represented by Anna Fischer and Natalie Creswick, however, on the descent Alli Holland managed to bridge a 3 minute gap to the leaders together with reigning cyclo-cross world cup holder Daphny van den Brand. Van den Brand later said that she thought she was a pretty good descender but she was gobsmacked by the speed with which Holland passed her on the descent and only barely managed to latch on to get back to the lead group.
Not satisfied with catching up with the leaders, Alli Holland decided to continue at the pace she set and went straight past the leaders of the front of the group. She managed to get a 20 second gap over the group, before being reeled in on the next climb.
In the leading peloton a minor disaster took place with Anna Fischer coming down in a gravel-strewn corner. She managed to get up before the last rider had passed her but, now on the uphill, realised the rear break was rubbing against her wheel. Due to the narrow roads and the team car being far back in the convoy, Anna decided to ride on slowly, dropping back through the cars, having her bike mended whilst on the move.
Once the bike was fixed she faced the task of riding back up to the peloton through the cars and riders that were being dropped from the lead bunch. By the time she rejoined, 17 riders had disappeared up the road, but with the help of team mate Creswick and Austrian champion Andrea Grauss, the group managed to limit the time loss on the leaders.
Lizzie Armitstead won her second stage, Creswick and Fischer finished in a 3rd group on the road. Further back some more drama took place when 18 year old Emma Grant, drifting between groups on her own, wanted to take a bottle from one of the motorbike riders. A miscommunication between the two meant that Grant landed face first on the ground. With a bloodied face she let off some steam by taking the sprint of her finishing group. Also in that group was Rebecca Curley, who 50km into the stage broke a gear cable and, being behind the team car, she was left with only two gears to ride the rest of the stage with. Taking help from fellow racers and friendly motorbike riders, she managed to get over the hills to the finish line.