Sagan beats Greipel for stage victory in Tour de France
PETER Sagan sealed the first week of his maiden Tour de France with his third stage victory in a crash-ridden 207.5-km sixth stage which seriously hurt the chances of some leading favourites.
The 22-year-old Slovak outpaced the leading part of a scattered bunch to achieve a spectacular treble ahead of Germany’s Andre Greipel, the winner of the two previous stages and one of many riders to hit the tarmac between Epernay and Metz.
Australian Matthew Goss took third while Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who also avoided the worst pile-up of the day, retained his overall leader’s yellow jersey. “I won five in California, four in Switzerland, now three in France. I didn’t expect to win that many stages in my first Tour but why stop now?” said Sagan, who went tumbling to the tarmac in the previous stage.
“I was lucky to be unhurt. In stages like this, everybody wants to be in the front and it causes unnecessary crashes,” he told reporters. Some Tour contenders were not so lucky and three riders, American Tom Danielson, Italy’s Davide Vigano and Spain’s Mikel Astarloza were forced to bid farewell to the race.
World champion Mark Cavendish was held up in the chaos which took place 26 kilometres from the finish and was, therefore, unable to be part of the final sprint, but other riders have probably lost the Tour even before Saturday’s first mountain stage.
American team Garmin were among the hardest hit, losing Danielson, eighth last year, while their Canadian leader Ryder Hesjedal, escorted by David Millar and Tyler Farrar, finished more than 13 minutes off the pace. The Giro d’Italia champion was sent to hospital for checks after crossing the line.