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Tour de France stage 5: Sagan flexes his muscles to win in Colmar

Peter Sagan addressed questions about his form by winning stage 5 of the Tour de France in Colmar

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Peter Sagan performed his best Incredible Hulk impersonation after winning Wednesday’s fifth stage of the Tour de France.

Sagan flexed his muscles in celebration after winning the bunch sprint ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott). After the victory, Sagan said the victory addressed questions about his form that have percolated through the first few days of the Tour de France.

Prior to Wednesday, Sagan had yet to win a stage.

“I did my best and it just came. If I don’t win then everybody is going to ask me what is missed,” Sagan said. “You can see nothing is missing. Everybody needs good luck and a good day for win.”

Behind Sagan, van Aert’s bike throw placed him just ahead of Trentin. Van Aert said he misjudged his positioning in the bunch as the peloton rumbled through a roundabout inside the final kilometer.

“I knew there was a headwind in the last kilometers,” van Aert said. “It was convenient to begin the sprint as late as possible and come from the back of the shoulder of Sagan and such. But I think I waited for a too long time.”

Sagan’s sprint win came after a hilly final 30 kilometers that saw many of the race’s top sprinters dropped on two second-category climbs. The 175-kilometer stage from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Colmar took in four categorized climbs, three of which came within the final 70 kilometers. The ascents of the Côte des Trois-Épis and Côte des Cinq Châteaux came in quick succession, with the descent of the final climb coming just 11 kilometers from the finish line.

Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe teammates did much of the work throughout the back half of the stage, setting the tempo on the flat sections of the course and then ramping up the pace on the hills, alongside Team Sunweb.

“I have to say thanks to all my teammates. They did a very great job, and finally victory came for us at the Tour de France,” Sagan said. “For us it is very nice. We controlled the race all day on the flat part and until the finish.”

The hilly stage looked perfect for a breakaway, and indeed a four-rider group separated itself just 20 kilometers or so into the stage. The group contained Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Mads Schmidt Wurtz (Katusha-Alpecin), and King of the Mountains leader Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

The peloton kept the break on a tight leash with pace setting being done by Sunweb, Bora-Hansgrohe, and Deceuninck-Quick Step, and the gap never grew beyond 2:30.

With 30km to go the breakaway accelerated on the Côte des Trois-Épis, and Skujins dropped his companions and struck on solo, only to be caught by the peloton near the summit of the ensuing climb. The uptick in pace, however, shed the peloton’s heavy sprinters, with Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) all losing pace on the climb.

The stage produced no change to the GC picture, as overnight leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) finished in the group. The hilly stage is just a warmup for Thursday’s mountainous stage 6, which finishes atop the La Planche des Belles Filles climb.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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