Tour de France: Peter Sagan powers to first stage win

Julian Alaphilippe retains yellow jersey after stage five from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Colmar

Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Bora Hansgrohe team celebrates his win after crossing the finish line following the fifth stage of the Tour de France between Saint Die des Vosges and Colmar. Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA

Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Bora Hansgrohe team celebrates his win after crossing the finish line following the fifth stage of the Tour de France between Saint Die des Vosges and Colmar. Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA

 

Peter Sagan described his 12th Tour de France stage win in Colmar as “exquisite” after the first day of racing through the Vosges Massif failed to induce any major attacks from the contenders for overall victory in Paris.

A day that featured four categorised climbs in the “highest Tour in history” produced a stalemate among the major favourites. The 175.5 kilometre loop through the Vosges’ easier climbs merely continued the waiting game, with all minds now focussed on Thursday’s first summit finish to La Planche des Belles Filles.

As Sagan tightened his hold on yet another green jersey, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal and Adam Yates , all cited as contenders for victory on the new and steeper finish to a climb that has been used only three times in the Tour, fretted over what lay in wait at the spectacular ‘Bench of the Beautiful Girls.’

Even on Wednesday evening there was uncertainty over the difficulty of the stage six finish, which includes a new final kilometre that is both murderously steep and on gravel road. Just how rough the gravel is and whether it has been improved by the race organisation remained a mystery, even at the 11th hour, with most team’s sports directors heading straight from the stage five finish in Colmar to La Planche des Belles Filles to see for themselves.

“If you look back at previous stages at Planche des Belles Filles, they’ve always been hard days, but this time the riders will be going significantly higher and the amount of climbing means that this is like a full-on mountain stage,” Thomas and Bernal’s Team Ineos sports director, Nicolas Portal said.

“The final kilometre makes it much more difficult because it’s very steep on a road that’s far from perfect. There’s gravel and, unless it’s been resurfaced, it’s going to make things a lot more difficult. It’s quite technical as well because it’s not simply a steep climb at the same gradient. There are easier sections, then very difficult parts.

But Portal doubted that the climb would prove decisive. “I think it is coming too soon to make a real difference,” the Frenchman said. “The riders know that, but they also know that the first mountain stage can sometimes be hard on the legs, particularly one like this when the terrain is quite punchy, and if they can’t respond in the way that they want to they can lose time. I think some of the riders will be a little bit nervous, feeling that if the stage doesn’t go well for them it will be catastrophic.”

Defending champion Thomas, who lost five seconds to teammate Bernal at Monday’s finish in Epernay, appreciated entering the first Tour climbs. “It was nice to get a bit of climbing in the legs,” he said. “You can’t really tell a lot from the last few days.”

“It is hard,” he said of the stage six finish. “That sort of climb favours the punchy, pure climbers,” he said, before citing Bernal among the favourites. The question now is, whether, after a difficult build-up to the Tour, Thomas has the legs to stay with them.

There was little movement for the two Irish riders in general classification as Dan Martin rose one place to 35th, still one minute and 28 seconds behind leader Julian Alaphilippe while Nicolas Roche slipped to 20th, one minute behind the leader. – Guardian

Stage 5 (Saint-Die-Des-Vosges — Colmar, 175.5km)

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 4hrs 02mins 33secs, 2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma, 3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, 4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, 5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team, 6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis Solutions Credits, 7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, 8 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, 9 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, 10 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep, 11 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert, 12 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data, 13 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First, 14 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert, 15 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team, 16 Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team, 17 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, 18 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, 19 Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea Samsic, 20 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott all at same time

Selected Others: 24 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Ineos, 52 Adam Yates (Gbr) Mitchelton-Scott , 66 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, 77 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb all at same time, 135 Simon Yates (Gbr) Mitchelton-Scott at 14mins 48secs, 147 Alex Dowsett (Gbr) Katusha-Alpecin at 16mins 58secs, 154 Luke Rowe (Gbr) Team Ineos at same time, 175 Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Dimension Data at 18mins 37secs

General Classification after Stage 5

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 18hrs 44mins 12secs, 2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma at 14secs, 3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma at 25secs, 4 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma at same time, 5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb at 40secs, 6 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos at same time, 7 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Ineos at 45secs, 8 Enric Mas (Spa) Deceuninck-QuickStep at 46secs, 9 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe at 50secs, 10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team at 51secs, 11 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First, 12 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb all at same time, 13 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 52secs, 14 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First at 53secs, 15 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) EF Education First at same time, 16 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 56secs, 17 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott at 57secs, 18 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, 19 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ all at same time, 20 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb at 1min 0secs

Selected Others: 23 Adam Yates (Gbr) Mitchelton-Scott at 1min 6secs, 35 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 1min 28secs, 119 Simon Yates (Gbr) Mitchelton-Scott at 26mins 36secs, 152 Luke Rowe (Gbr) Team Ineos at 33mins 55secs, 153 Alex Dowsett (Gbr) Katusha-Alpecin at 34mins 10secs, 158 Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Dimension Data at 35mins 8secs

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