The Associated PressQUIMPER, France (AP) — Peter Sagan had the yellow jersey holder to thank for his victory in Stage 5 of the Tour de France on Wednesday.
Chris Froome could also thank his Team Sky colleagues for keeping him out of danger — and helping overcome a mechanical problem — in the race’s first hilly stage.
Greg Van Avermaet mistimed his sprint and Sagan, the three-time reigning world champion with the Bora-Hansgrohe team, took advantage to claim his second victory in this year’s event.
“I don’t know if he did it on purpose or if he wanted to drop everybody but I have to say thanks,” Sagan said.
Van Avermaet still increased his overall lead over BMC teammate Tejay van Garderen to two seconds by gaining precious time in an intermediate bonus sprint. After a move from Philippe Gilbert, Van Avermaet accelerated out of the final turn with 300 meters to go but couldn’t maintain his pace.
“I tried to win the stage but it was pretty complicated,” Van Avermaet said. “Phil went early and he’s still pretty close on GC [general classification] so I couldn’t let him go. I think I went too early in the sprint. I thought the corner was closer to the finish than it really was.”
In a repeat of Stage 2, Sagan held off Sonny Colbrelli in the sprint, with Gilbert finishing third.
Sagan clocked nearly 5 hours over the undulating leg through Brittany, which contained five categorized climbs over a 204.5-kilometer route from Lorient to Quimper.