Tour de France: Sagan's 10th stage win earns him the Zwift Rider of the Day

World Champion bests the bunch on uphill sprint in Quimper

His second stage win in five days, and number 10 in his Tour de France career, sees Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) take the Zwift Rider of the Day for stage 5 at the Tour de France as he consolidated his points classification lead.

The Tour's fifth stage, an all-Breton affair running from Lorient to Quimper, was, for much of the day about the breakaway. With Direct Energie's Sylvain Chavanel and Lilian Calmejane joining new polka dot jersey wearer Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) among those providing the entertainment out front on the first hilly stage of the Tour, you could be forgiven for forgetting about the finish.

But with the peloton reeling the last of the breakaway in some 12km out, thoughts soon returned to the uphill finish and the cream of the puncheur crop that would contest it. Yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) showed his intent by snagging two bonus seconds in the late bonification sprint, while Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) was the first of the big names to strike out on the climb to the finish.

Julien Simon and then Van Avermaet closed the gap to the Belgian, while a few wheels back Sagan was hopping from rider to rider. First he was behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Mrida), then he switched to Van Avermaet as the BMC rider took it up on the front with 400 metres to go.

It was a premier piece of positioning that we have come to expect from the world champion, and an aspect of his racing that often goes unmentioned. Rewind these sprint finishes and watch with a cooler head and you'll often see Sagan - who more often than not freestyles during final kilometres rather than riding a leadout train - fighting for the best wheel, sensing exactly where he should be and usually getting into his preferred position before launching.

We saw it yesterday as he followed the Richeze-Gaviria train against the barriers, and we saw it again today as he rounded the final corner behind Van Avermaet, sensed that Colbrelli had jumped with 250 metres to go, and then went himself.

From there it was mano a mano, and Sagan was not going to be denied, outlasting the Italian to the line.

"It was a little bit lucky because Colbrelli was coming close," Sagan said afterwards. "My teammates did a very good job. They brought me into a good position for the final climb."

Alluding to the positioning on the final climb, he added, "I think that Van Avermaet started too early and in the end he pulled a very good sprint for me and Colbrelli."

Daniel Ostanek: Sagan was the favourites for another stage win today, and he showed us exactly why on the race's first uphill finish. It was a superior display - first of positioning, then power - to show why he's the man to beat for the green jersey this year.

Five times of winner of the maillot verde already, he is the favourite to join the record-holder Erik Zabel on six this year. While Fernando Gaviria is capable of beating Sagan on the flat, he can't compete on finishes like this, and honestly neither can anybody else in the race when the Slovak is on this form.

Readers' pick

On stage 4 you voted for Quick-Step Floors' Fernando Gaviria as the Zwift rider of the Day. The Colombian sprinter, riding his first Tour de France, took his second stage victory in just four days to make it 44 wins in 2018 for the Belgian squad. What had initially looked like a photo finish actually turned out to be not very close at all, as Gaviria took advantage of a fantastic Maximilano Richeze leadout to sweep to victory.

You can vote for the stage 5 Zwift Rider of the Day below. We will announce the readers' poll winner after Thursday's stage 6.
 

Related Articles

Back to top