Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is hoping to equal Erik Zabel's record of six green jerseys at the Tour de France, but he has already moved past the German in the record book before reaching Paris, taking the green jersey for a 90th time thanks to his stage win Wednesday in Quimper.
Zabel wore the green jersey 89 times between 1996 and 2007. Sagan has reached 90 in seven years.
Sagan again beat Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) in a drag-racing sprint to the finish line after a day of racing in the roller coaster Breton hills and a finale that included a kick-up to the finish that ended with a tight left turn just 300 metres from the line.
Sagan wisely stayed on the wheels but safely up front until the final two kilometres and then pounced like a cat playing with mice. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) started his sprint early, giving Sagan and Colbrelli a lead out. They went shoulder to shoulder, with Sagan having a little more strength and pain resistance, allowing him to edge ahead and win.
Colbrelli has twice finished second to Sagan but never won a Tour de France stage. Sagan has won 10, but there were to be no gifts for the Italian.
"I spoke with Colbrelli during the stage, and I told him not to surprise me. He said, 'Come on Peter, let me win one.' But I said no, telling him I've already lost a lot. If you try day after day a win will come," Sagan said, forgetting his own high strike rate and perhaps unaware that he has already move past Zabel for the number of days in green.
Sagan was more charitable to his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates, making sure to thank them as he gave a play by play repeat of the high-speed finale and his sprint, naming the other riders by their first names as if he was sprinting against friends rather than Tour de France rivals.
"I have to thank my teammates again they did a great job," Sagan said.
"We controlled race from middle with BMC and the guys put me in good position next to Sky in the finale. They did full gas from bottom of the climb, then Philippe (Gilbert) attacked but I didn't let him go. Then Greg van Avermaet started his sprint really early and it was a perfect lead out. Thanks Greg!"
Sagan was not inconsiderate to his Classics rival, just grateful that Van Avermaet mistimed his sprint.
Because stage 5 is classified as a hilly stage, Sagan only scored 30 points for his win, compared to the 50 awarded on the flat stages. However, with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and most other sprinters out of the results, Sagan strengthened his grip on the green jersey.
He will start his 90th day in green with 180 points. Gaviria is second with 147 points, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) is third with 78, and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) is fourth with 69 points.
With 2017 green jersey winner Michael Mathews (Team Sunweb) forced out of this year's Tour de France with stomach problems, Sagan already has a commanding lead.
"It was a pity there were a little bit less points than normally, but that’s OK. I think I got just 30 points, but it was better than nothing. Tomorrow is another day, with more points available."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.