Peter Sagan sprints to commanding victory in Colmar after brilliant BORA-hansgrohe teamwork on Tour de France stage 5
From the flat early stages, the terrain of the Tour de France has become progressively harder as the week has gone on. Today, moving into the Vosges mountains of north-east France, the undulating 175.5km parcours saw four categorised climbs over its distance. Starting with the relatively easy Côte de Grendelbruch, with its 4.9% average gradient, the climbs got longer and steeper as the day went on, with the Côte des Trois-Épis the day’s hardest, with average gradients of 6.7% over its 5km distance. The finale was pan flat, but the grouping of climbs so close to the finish would exclude the pure sprinters from challenging for the stage win. Knowing they’d be unlikely to have the sprinters chasing them down today, the break went off with a spring in their step – albeit after a few false starts. This strong quartet immediately set about building their lead, but with BORA-hansgrohe driving the pace hard in the hope of contesting the finish, the lead couldn’t even reach two minutes, falling to a little more than a minute before the team peeled off the front and the gap started to rise again – testament to the sheer power and pace of the BORA-hansgrohe riders. After the break made their way through the intermediate sprint after 71km, Peter Sagan took second from the bunch, adding some more points to his tally. Entering the bigger climbs, Marcus Burghardt and then Lukas Pöstlberger took to the front again, reducing the gap, as the pure sprinters began to be dropped off the back of the peloton, and at the same time the break started showing signs of splintering, with one of their number attacking solo, and another being dropped on the Côte des Trois-Épis. It was all back together with 22km remaining, and it was going to be tense with plenty of opportunities to attack on the day’s final climb. The incredibly hard pace set from the peloton, as well as headwinds, meant it was almost impossible to attack in the run-in to the finish. The strung-out, reduced bunch knew a sprint was the likely outcome as the race dipped into the final 10km and in spite of a late attack, Gregor Mühlberger took to the front to reel them back, with the German National Champion, Maximilian Schachmann riding to protect Peter Sagan. In the twisting lead-in to the finish, Peter read the road perfectly, surfing wheels and staying in the slipstream of the other sprinters. Exploding with a few hundred metres to go, there was absolutely no doubt who was going to take the win, the Slovak rider leaving his rivals in the dust and extending his lead in the points contest.
01 P. Sagan 4:02:33
02 W. Van Aert +0:00
03 M. Trentin +0:00
From the Finish Line
"As I said in the first four stages, you have to be patient and victory will come. A stage win in the Tour de France requires strong form, good tactics but also other things that have to come together. It isn't that simple. I'd like to really thank my teammates today for their fantastic job. They were brilliant and controlled the race throughout the day. We controlled the flat parts, the climbs, all the way to finish. This victory is the result of great teamwork!" – Peter Sagan
"We have been trying since the first stage to take a win but luck wasn't always on our side, especially on the first day where Peter was so close. Today, our plan for the stage was clear but we had to invest a lot towards it. It required really hard work but every single rider of BORA-hansgrohe did an amazing job. Peter climbed perfectly today, he had no problems and was well-protected in the final ascent. I think he was fresher than the other sprinters in the final stretch and was able to top off the great teamwork with a convincing victory." – Enrico Poitschke, Sport Director