Peter Sagan (Bora – hansgrohe) took his second stage win of the 2018 Tour de France today as he fended off Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) at the end of the fifth stage from Lorient to Quimper. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) retained the yellow jersey.
In contrast to the previous three road stage, stage 5 would see the peloton tackle five categorised climbs. While these were a mixture of third and fourth category, the most difficult being the Côte de Menez Queler’ch at 159.5km, the number of climbs combined with the stage’s distance – an energy-sapping 204.5km – would make this the hardest day of the Tour so far.
A group of seven – Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Samsic), Julien Vermote (Dimension Data), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Tom Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) – made their escape and became the day’s breakaway, quickly building a gap of 2:30. The strength of this group meant the peloton wouldn’t want to allow them too much of a lead, and when this gap hit 5:20, the bunch took action to bring this down, spurred on as well by the intermediate sprint.
An attack from within the escape by Chavanel reduced their number, and it was clear the remaining riders were struggling, in spite of some attempts to bridge. In the bunch, BORA-hansgrohe took to the front, with Daniel Oss, Maciej Bodnar and Marcus Burghardt each playing their part in reducing the gap, with the breakaway being no match for the determined peloton.
The catch was made with 10 kilometres remaining, and high speeds stretched the bunch, but Sagan remained towards the front of the diminished group. With 800 metres to go, Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step) launched the sprint, followed by Julien Simon (Cofidis). Van Avermaet closed on Gilbert and his action paved the way for another punchy stage victory by Sagan who fended off Colbrelli.
“My BORA-hansgrohe teammates did an amazing job today,” said Sagan. “Bodi and Burghardt were pulling on the front from the middle of the stage before everyone else brought me into position for the final climb. In the final stretch, Sky started to pull hard and go full speed, and then Gilbert came over the climb fast too. He tried to attack but we caught him and after, I think Van Avermaet started a little too early, so it really left me and Colbrelli to fight it out.
“I was pretty lucky because Colbrelli was coming close near the end. During the Tour de France everything is different, but the parcours was like an Ardennes classic – up down, left, right, narrow roads. Technically it was a nice parcours. While there weren’t as many points today – just 30 for the win – it’s better than nothing though, and tomorrow is another day.”