Sunday 17 December 2017

Tour de France: Sagan ends dream week on high

Peter Sagan completed 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 a scattered bunch to achieve a spectacular treble ahead of Germany's Andre Greipel, the winner of the two previous stages .

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 with seven seconds to spare over Bradley Wiggins.

"I didn't expect to win that many stages in my first Tour, but why stop now?" said Sagan, who fell 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."

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 missed out on the final sprint, but other riders have probably lost the Tour even before today'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.

Among the other top-flight riders held up in the day's crashes were Luxembourg's Frank Schleck and Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who both lost 2:09, while Dutchman Robert Gesink finished 3:31 adrift.

Irish Independent

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