ALBI, France, (Reuters) – Peter Sagan thrashed his rivals in the fight for the green jersey when he won the seventh stage of the Tour de France after a fine tactical move by his Cannondale team yesterday.
Sagan outsprinted German John Degenkolb and Italian Daniele Bennati at the end of a 205.5-km ride from Montpellier to move 94 points clear in the points classification.
Rivals Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel scored no points on the day after being dropped following a brutal acceleration by Cannondale on a tricky climb and finishing almost 15 minutes behind Sagan.
“After my first-day crash, I didn’t feel very good and I trusted in myself every day and now, day by day, I feel better and today came my first victory in the Tour de France and I thank my team,” said Sagan.
“I am very happy and I thank my team because without my team I couldn’t have done what I did. This victory is for all our team.”
South African Daryl Impey retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey, which he will probably lose after today’s first mountain stage, a 195-km trek between Castres and Ax-3-Domaines.
“We came out here today to protect the jersey and we have done that,” Impey said in a television interview.
Pre-race favourites Alberto Contador and Chris Froome made it safely to the finish but American Christian Vande Velde abandoned after being involved in a huge crash after 11 kilometres.
Colombian climber Nairo Quintana and Spain’s Dani Moreno were also involved but made it to the finish with the leading group.
Sagan timed his effort to perfection in the home straight as Degenkolb bolted with 50 metres left.
He now has 224 points in the points classification while Greipel has 130 and Cavendish 119. The Slovakian rider will likely grab more points in the mountains, where most of his rivals will be happy with just surviving.