- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

NANCY, France (AP) - Friday’s Stage 7 at the Tour de France was a day for the Italians.

Matteo Trentin won by little more than a hair’s breadth in a sprint at the end of the stage, and Vincenzo Nibali kept the race leader’s yellow jersey. He’s worn it every day since taking it from German sprinter Marcel Kittel in the second stage.

Here’s a look at the 234.5-kilometer (145.7-mile) ride from Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region, to the eastern city of Nancy. It was the second-longest stage of the year, and the last mostly flat stage before the three-week race enters the Vosges mountains for three days of up-and-down riding:

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CLOSE, BUT NO …

Peter Sagan just can’t make it happen. He’s finished in the top five of every stage this year, but not yet first.

The Slovakian rider, tipped to win on Friday, missed out on victory by two centimeters (about an inch) at most when Trentin pipped him at the line in a photo finish.

Even Sagan seemed to think victory might finally be his. “Will today be THE DAY?” he tweeted before the start.

Things might be looking up for him. This second-place was the closest he’s managed yet. He was also second in Stages 1 and 3.

Sagan captured the green jersey for the Tour’s best sprinter in the past two years and is already wearing it this week. He won three stages in 2012 and one last year.

“This is another good day for the green jersey but something extra is missing and that’s a stage win,” Sagan said. “However, there’s still a long way away in the Tour de France and my day will come. At least I hope so.”

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CHINA’S FIRST COMPETITOR

Ji Cheng knows of firsts and lasts, and is taking it all in stride.

The Giant-Shimano team’s “breakaway killer” - so dubbed for his knack for leading the pack in chase of runaway riders - is the first Chinese rider ever to compete in cycling’s greatest race.

Story Continues →