Rainbows often follow showers, and a rainy day in Normandy ended with Peter Sagan’s rainbow jersey emerging triumphant on the streets of Cherbourg. Julian Alaphilippe pushed the Tinkoff world champion all the way, at first passing him in the sprint, before the Velvet Samurai found a second kick, and came out of the young Frenchman’s wheel to burst for the line. Sagan actually thought he was racing for second place, thinking that there was a rider ahead from the break. (Good to know I wasn’t the only one confused by the race data!) Fittingly, the rainbow gave way, not quite to a pot of gold, but to a yellow jersey and, just like Mark Cavendish yesterday, this is Sagan’s first ever maillot jaune (but almost certainly not his last).
Rider of the Race
The peloton cruised through most of this stage, allowing a four-man break of Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18), Vegard Breen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18) freedom of the road while they thought long and hard about who was going to chase them down. Nothing much was happening, until Stuyven attacked with just under 10km to go, ditching his fellow escapees on the steepest part of the Cote d’Octeville in favour of a lone run in. His determined challenge almost left a number of teams looking red faced, but blushes were spared when he was swallowed up with only a few hundred metres to go. Although he earned enough points to put himself in the polka-dot jersey at least until Friday, he was heartbroken that the stage win slipped away from him.
Time waits for no one
Two GC contenders had a ‘shit day of #unluck’, which certainly put one of them out of contention and the other having to play catchup in bandages.
Alberto Contador’s bad luck continued today. Carrying the scars of yesterday’s crash, and further impeded by a bad night’s sleep, he found himself on the tarmac once again, about halfway through the stage, landing on the same shoulder as yesterday. The Tinkoff team looked after him most of the race but in the run-up to the stage win drove the peloton so hard Contador lost contact with the main group, coming in 48 seconds down. Unfortunately for him, Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana were not left behind and came in on the winning time, leaving Contador with a 1.02 deficit in the GC.
Richie Porte also lost out today, suffering a mechanical problem in the closing kilometres when the pace was as racy as it could get. Reliant on the neutral service car for assistance (as team cars were pulled out by this time) he fell well behind and was unable to latch back on to the bunch. By the time he crossed the line, Porte had lost a crushing 1:45, and although there is a long way to go, it’s hard to see him pulling back his overall deficit of 1.59. Looks like it’s Tejay van Garderen for sole captaincy of the BMC team now.
1 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 4:20:51
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) s/t
3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) s/t
4 Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) s/t
5 Michael Matthews (Orica-Bike Exchange) s/t
GC top 5
1 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 8:34:42
2 Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) +0:08
3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:10
4 Warren Barguil (TGA) +0:14
5 Chris Froome (Team Sky) +0:14
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
KOM jersey: Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)
Best Young Rider: Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep)
Full race review: CyclingNews
Header image: ©GETTY/Corbis/Tim de Waele