Tour de France 2017: Marcel Kittel wins stage seven, Froome keeps yellow jersey
|Tour de France: 1-23 July|
|Coverage: Live text commentary of every stage on the BBC Sport website. BBC Radio coverage on 5 live sports extra and/or website from 14:30 BST on every stage.|
Marcel Kittel won his third stage of the 2017 Tour de France by 6mm after a photo finish in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The German was finishing the fastest and he caught Edvald Boasson Hagen on the line but, unusually, neither rider knew if they had won stage seven.
Kittel was eventually awarded the win after several minutes' deliberation.
Britain's Chris Froome retained the overall race lead after a relatively quiet day for the general classification riders.
The three-time Tour champion leads fellow Briton and Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas by 12 seconds, with Italy's Fabio Aru two seconds further adrift in third.
"There was a lot of talk of crosswinds, so it was a bit of a nervous day and we wanted to be at the front all day in case something happened," said Froome.
"The team kept me safe at the front and fortunately nothing happened. It was a good day to get ticked off."
Fellow Briton Simon Yates remained sixth in the general classification, and continues to lead the white jersey classification as fastest rider under the age of 26.
- Read: Stage eight - will a breakaway succeed in mountains?
- Read: Stage seven as it happened
- Listen: 'Kittel lunged at the very last minute'
- Listen to the BeSpoke podcast
Kittel takes green jersey
The threat of crosswinds failed to materialise as the race moved 213.5km from the Champagne region south-east to Burgundy.
A breakaway group of four riders was allowed to build a lead of three minutes, 45 seconds but was eventually caught with six kilometres remaining.
It was then down to the sprinters and Boasson Hagen, who would have been helping lead out Mark Cavendish had the British rider not crashed out on stage four, was expertly set up by his Dimension Data team-mates.
The Norwegian, 30, looked set to win his first Tour stage since winning two in 2011 but was pipped on the line.
Kittel, who also won stages two and six, has now matched Erik Zabel's German record of 12 Tour stage wins.
"I had no clue if I won or not on the finish line," said the Quick-Step Floors rider. "With 150m to go, I just had to pray the door opened for me and I had just enough.
"I am in great shape and super happy the team supported me. It is crazy and celebrating three stage wins is incredible."
Kittel's win earned him 50 points to take the green jersey from French national champion Arnaud Demare, who could only finish 11th.
McLay 'stuffed it up'
Britain's Daniel McLay impressed again, finishing in 10th place, but the Fortuneo-Vital Concept rider was unhappy with his finish.
"I made a big error in the finish," he said. "I think I didn't believe in myself and I got stuck freewheeling on Demare's wheel.
"I stuffed it up. I need more confidence. It's up to me to pull my finger out and believe in myself.
"You can see Kittel is a level above but it's not out of this world (to get a stage win)."
A big weekend ahead
With two mountain stages to come on Saturday and Sunday, the latter featuring three of the Tour's six 'hors categorie' climbs, Froome and the riders chasing the overall race victory will come to the fore.
'Hors categorie' climbs are the toughest the riders will face and the term was originally coined for mountain roads where cars were not expected to be able to pass.
Saturday's stage eight is a 187.5km race from Dole to Station des Rousses in the Jura mountains.
Stage seven result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Quick-Step) 5hrs 03mins 18secs
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Dimension Data) Same time
3. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb)
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha)
5. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek)
6. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL)
7. Ruediger Selig (Ger/Bora)
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/Cofidis)
9. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto)
10. Daniel McLay (GB/Fortuneo)
General classification after stage seven:
1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 28hrs 47mins 50secs
2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +12secs
3. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +14secs
4. Daniel Martin (Ire/Quick-Step) +25secs
5. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC Racing) +39secs
6. Simon Yates (GB/Orica) +43secs
7. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +47secs
8. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek) +52secs
9. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +54secs
10. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora) +1min 01sec