On an exciting day of racing, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) took his second stage win of this year’s Tour de France with an audacious move 12km from the finish, taking teammate Maciej Bodnar and the Yellow Jersey with him. Sagan’s stage win and the points amassed during the stage help the UCI World Champion to extend his lead in the points contest, and now leads Mark Cavendish in second place by a significant margin.
Having been denied a bunch sprint by Sagan’s breakaway group yesterday, the sprint teams were given a second chance to contest the finish before the Tour de France returned to the mountains tomorrow.
This didn’t stop a two-man break going up the road, but the peloton had little time to worry about the escape however with the constant threat of crosswinds making for nervous racing and resulting in several crashes. From 100km remaining however, the teams really started to pull at the front and upped the pace massively – so much so that when Tinkoff took the front, the pace was so high it caused a split in the peloton.
This huge effort saw the gap drop massively and with 70km remaining, the gap was down to just 45 seconds and with 61km still to race, the break was caught. With such a high pace and strong winds buffeting the group, racing was hard, and shortly after the break was caught, a crash saw both Rafal Majka and Oscar Gatto go down. Luckily both were uninjured and able to rejoin the race.
The intermediate sprint saw the UCI World Champion take second and from here it was full gas to the finish. There was status quo until the 12km to go mark, where Peter and Maciej Bodnar were joined by Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). The quarter stayed clear where Sagan outsprinted Froome to take the win.
“It was something crazy what happened,” said Sagan. “I didn’t believe when we attacked that we could go. After Froomey and Geraint Thomas went with us I said ‘we are too strong; they will never catch us’. We just pulled very hard and made it happen.”
“Today everybody knew it was a crazy wind, but the real crazy wind only came in the last 15km. There was no planning for the end, we knew to stay up front in position as the bunch would split. But to go in break with yellow and two guys like Bodnar & Thomas, you cannot plan that, it just happened.”
“Today I’m very surprised and also very happy. We were trying all the time to be in the front and it was often dangerous with a lot of crashes and the wind was very dangerous. The last 12km was just decisive to do well. Thank you to Maciej Bodnar as he did a huge job, and also Chris Froome and Thomas as they were working with us to make the difference over the bunch.”
“I am very happy – the green jersey, and the stage victory. Yesterday everybody was saying ‘are you frustrated?’ but I said I’m not and that I just look ahead each day. It was not planned at the end – it was in the moment, instinct. I bet everything on that attack as if the bunch caught us I wouldn’t have any thing left. It was four very strong riders in the front, and it was a winning combination.”