We are 1/3 way through this Tour and the sprinters had their last shots today before moving into the cobbles of Stage 9 followed by a rest day.
Two Frenchman went out in a breakaway to try to make something special happen on the French national holiday of Bastille Day.
A nasty crash with about 15 km to go bloodied up stage 6 winner Dan Martin from UAE Team Emirates, and also involved Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe, KOM jersey leader Tom Skujins, and Team EF-Drapac rider Simon Clarke.
The breakaway riders were both swallowed up well before the finish, leaving it to French sprinter Arnaud Demare to try to claim the day for France.
With 5 km to go, Team Dimension Data was doing their part to set up Mark Cavendish for the sprint. Lotto Soudal for Andre Greipel, Quick-Step for Fernando Gaviria, FDJ for Arnaud Demare, and Team Sky just to keep their men safe were all organizing at the front of the peloton.
Meanwhile, Dan Martin’s UAE team was working hard to get him back up to the peloton as close as they could to minimize the time loss from that crash.
With 1 km to go, it was Lotto Soudal, Quick-Step, and FDJ taking charge at the front for their riders.
Sagan took an unexpected early leap out front and launched way ahead of Gaviria and Greipel who had some physical contact down the left side of the straight finish.
It was too early, though, for Sagan and he couldn’t hang on through the line. He was passed by both Greipel and Gaviria with Lotto Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen surging ahead of them all down the right side for a very strong SECOND win in a row.
That’s 3 sprinters with 2 wins this Tour so far. Sagan crossed the line in fourth.
There is speculation that Gaviria could be penalized for head-butting Greipel, so we’ll have to see how things shake out before the start of stage 9 on Sunday. And with Greipel and Groenewegen looking so strong, the green jersey could be in several men’s sights now.
As for the man in yellow, all those who bet on BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet to hold onto the yellow jersey to stage 9 can collect their winnings because Van Avermaet will start the much-anticipated and potentially tour-defining cobbles stage on Sunday in yellow.
It’s going to be tense and messy out there.
P.S. We love you.
And with Le Tour hitting 15 sectors of cobbles on Sunday’s Stage 9, it’s a good time to revisit Peter Sagan’s win at Paris-Roubaix earlier this year. Check out the highlights HERE and watch Sagan break away from the other contenders, conquer the cobbles and then win it in the velodrome.
Good luck on Sunday Peter!