After being narrowly beaten to the top spot on yesterday’s opening stage of the Tour de France, Peter Sagan took the victory on today’s stage to La Roche-sur-Yon in a reduced bunch sprint and in doing so, became the first BORA-hansgrohe rider to wear the prestigious maillot jaune of race leader.
The day started with a group of three – Dion Smith (Wanty – Groupe Gobert), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo) going on the attack and leaving the peloton in their wake, taking 1:30 in less than 10 kilometres of racing, but after the categorised climb had been conquered, two of the trio dropped off, leaving just Chavanel up front.
Unperturbed, the Frenchman pushed on, building the lead to 4:30 before the peloton started their efforts to draw him back in. With 50 kilometres remaining, Sagan led the bunch to take points in the intermediate sprint, and this surge in pace reduced the break’s lead even more.
With the peloton approaching the final 10 kilometres, the catch was made and the sprint teams took their place on the front of the peloton. The red and white stripes of Austrian National Champion, Lukas Pöstlberger, headed up the bunch, with the BORA-hansgrohe riders massing to protect Peter Sagan through the twists and turns of the last 5 kilometres, Marcus Burghardt and Daniel Oss riding close behind.
A huge crash with 2 kilometres to go split the bunch, taking out some of the big names and leaving just 14 riders to contest the sprint. Staying out of trouble, there were three BORA-hansgrohe riders in this group, including Sagan, who kicked hard and won ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ).
The Slovak rider took his first stage victory of the 2018 Tour de France and the Maillot Jaune for the second time in his career.
“I’m really happy for today and I have to say a really big thank you to my BORA-hansgrohe teammates because they rode on the front for the last 30 kilometres and kept me safe in the finale,” said Sagan.
“I expected the last few kilometres to be a bit easier, but it was really tough – up and down, left and right, before climbing again. I think starting the sprint later was better for me today Démare started with Degenkolb and I overtook them but I was really lucky Colbrelli didn’t get the jump on me.
“I’m very happy to take the Yellow Jersey today – both for me and for my team – it’s the first Yellow Jersey for the BORA-hansgrohe team and I wouldn’t be wearing it if it weren’t for them. I’m very happy to have so many fans, friends and family here. My father is here, as well as my friends from Žilina – my home town – and I want to dedicate my victory to my son, Marlon.”