‘He has this lethal jump’: What it’s like to sprint against Peter Sagan?

The Tour’s remaining sprinters describe what it’s like to come up against the world champion in a sprint finish

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) with his “lethal jump” seems almost unbeatable, a “cannibal”, for his rivals in the Tour de France.

Sagan won three sprints so far in the 2018 Tour to build up an almost insurmountable green jersey lead. His rivals, the ones who could survive the mountains so far, have trouble finding ways to manage the three-time world champion when the finish line nears.

>>> ‘Everyone wants to sprint now’: Peter Sagan overcomes ‘messy’ finish to claim third 2018 Tour stage win

“Sagan is the complete package,” Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) told Cycling Weekly.

“It seems as though maybe he won’t be able to do it at times, but instead, he comes through the gaps at the last moment. He has this truly lethal jump. There’s a clear reason why he is three times the world champion.”

Colbrelli beat Sagan in a Tour de Suisse sprint this June, but it was one of the few if not the only time the Italian could do so. So far in the Tour, he counts two runner-up spots against Sagan.



“When Sagan is in condition, he’s a cannibal and wins everything. His name is known around the world for this,” Colbrelli said.

“There are not many [weaknesses], I don’t know them! Sometimes you can try to jump him early, anticipate him. But if you get the jump, he loses a few pedal strokes and maybe he’s not able to win. Almost 10 out of 10 times, though, he’s able to fire back when you try.

“You can beat him, for sure, he’s not unbeatable. You have to be 100 per cent to have a chance, though.”

The Alpine stages took their toll for the big sprinters. The abandons over the last week include Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates), with two Tour stage wins from 2014, remains. However, the Norwegians still struggles with Sagan even with the thinning bunch sprints.

“[Sprinting against Sagan is] difficult, he’s fast as a sprinter, but he also wins up hills and climbs very well so he’s one of the best cyclists in the history of cycling,” said Kristoff. “You see that because he’s been world champion three times in a row. He’s incredible.”

Peter Sagan wins the 13th stage of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

Kristoff sprinted to second in Valence after surviving the Alps. Only one rider could edge ahead – Peter Sagan.

“How do you beat him? You should not ask me, I don’t beat him that often!” Kristoff said.

“If I sprint fast enough, sometimes he doesn’t manage to come around. He has a really good kick in the last 100 metres always, but if I manage to have a little bit more speed then maybe. Usually he just manages to come around me, but sometimes I manage to hold him behind me. It’s some time ago, though, that I could do that.”

Kristoff and Kittel often benefit from long sprint outs from their teams and high speeds.

“But then he just sits on the wheel and waits for the last 100 metres,” Kristoff added. “That doesn’t help. Maybe if I mange to come behind at bigger speed, but he’s always in the right spot and it’s difficult to beat him.”

Time to beat Sagan is running out for Colbrelli and Kristoff. Only two likely sprint days remain, the stage 18 finish in Pau and stage 21 in Paris.

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How Team Sky’s Tour de France leadership strategy may backfire

Comment: Geraint Thomas may have become the first Briton to win on Alpe d’Huez with a stunning sprint to the line, but by not taking more time out of Tom Dumoulin has he exposed a crack in Sky’s tactics ?

With two riders sitting in first and second place on general classification, it’s looking good for Team Sky. It’s looking quite dominant too. Hence all the booing from the French fans. But their decision to keep Chris Froome as their leader is a risky one because of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin who sits in third place.

While Geraint Thomas has a nice lead coming out of the Alps, it’s by no means a winning lead. The team’s decision to keep him riding in the service of Chris Froome instead of gaining time for himself may come back to bite them.

>>> Can Geraint Thomas win the Tour de France? Experts give their verdict

Tom Dumoulin looked like the strongest rider on Alpe d’Huez, and by not putting more time in to him, Sky may have messed up.

Froome’s one attack was significant because of the fact he didn’t make it stick. This has never happened since he started winning Grand Tours. Either he would commit to one big attack and make it stick, or he would go again and again until his rival(s) cracked.

On stage 12 his one attack got him 20 metres up the road before he was comfortably brought back. Having won the Giro d’Italia and held his form, he is undoubtedly not at full fitness. The question is whether his fitness is good enough to win. If it’s not and Sky continue to back him over Thomas, they could end up losing the Tour.



Froome was even dropped for a time on the Alpe as Tom Dumoulin attacked through the two kilometers to go banner. Thomas, ever the faithful team-mate, jumped on to his wheel but for a brief moment it looked like he was struggling to close the gap.

If Dumoulin had countered Froome’s attack and ridden away from Thomas, Sky could have lost the lead. Dumoulin’s strength is now their biggest worry. And now he knows that Thomas is working for Froome he could exploit it.

Surprisingly Thomas didn’t attack once on the Alpe. He played the faithful team-mate and as such failed to increase his lead. Was it team orders not to attack and risk putting Froome in difficulty, or was it simply that he couldn’t?

For a while on the Alpe Thomas looked laboured. His upper body rocking left and right as he turned his trademark big gear. He never once let a wheel go or looked like he was in trouble, but Thomas often has a bad patch within a race, and you can spot it in his pedalling. This happened when he raced on the track too.

In the Madison at the 2012 track World Championships he had a bad patch. He and team-mate Ben Swift were in a medal position when Thomas’s style suddenly changed. It was visible to the naked eye. The very definition of pedalling in squares. Losing all fluidity and speed the pair had to hold on through the bad patch before coming good again near the end to hold on to the silver medal behind the Belgian pair.

For a while on Alp d’Huez it looked like he was holding on.

His phenomenal sprint out of the final corner where he went wide, held his speed through the bend and opened up a 10 metre gap in a split second, suggested there was much more in his legs. Had he just thrown away a chance to put another 30 seconds or more in to Dumoulin?

Chris Froome on stage 12 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

Sky clearly has the strongest team, but their constant pace riding is perfect for Dumoulin. The time trial world champion climbs by holding a steady pace that few others can live with, or that brings back attacks. If he can isolate either Froome or Thomas, and then get the better of them in the final kilometre he could steal the yellow jersey from both of them. That would be nothing short of humiliating for the team that has dominated Grand Tours over the last six years.

If Thomas isn’t allowed to attack for the risk of distancing Froome (shades of the 2012 Tour there) he has one hope; that he can follow a flying Dumoulin while Froome can’t. Thomas could then sit on the Dutchman’s wheel and get dragged clear. If he had another minute on his team-mate on GC then he would be undisputed leader.

The worst case is Froome failing in an attack, paying the price for it, and then Thomas not being able to follow Dumoulin.

We’ll have to wait until we get the Pyrenees to see how this one plays out, but if you see Thomas pedalling in squares, you know it’s about to get interesting.

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Bahrain-Merida considering legal action against Tour de France after Nibali crash

The Bahrain-Merida team have confirmed to Cyclingnews that they are considering legal action against the organisers of the Tour de France after team leader Vincenzo Nibali was brought down and fractured a vertebrae in a chaotic incident on the climb to L’Alpe d’Huez.

Nibali was forced to quit the Tour de France, ending his and Bahrain-Merida’s chances of overall victory. The crash was not captured by live television coverage, and it was initially suspected that the incident had been caused by police motorbikes slowing in front of him. However footage shot by fans on the roadside later suggested that Nibali had fallen after his bike was hooked by the strap of a spectator’s camera. The presence of the police motorbikes, the many fans narrowing the space in the road and flare smoke reducing visibility all compounded events.  

Nibali has been told to take 15 days complete rest but could still ride the Vuelta a Espana and so target the world road race championships in Innsbruck in late September.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme apologised in person to Nibali after he arrived back at the team hotel in L’Alpe d’Huez after hospital x-rays confirmed his vertebra fracture, and UCI president David Lappartient has also called the team.

Prudhomme also publicly called on fans to respect the riders. However team manager Brent Copeland confirmed that Bahrain-Merida are considering legal action. “

I’ve spoken to both Christian Prudhomme and UCI president David Lappartient at length. They apologised and assured us that safety will be improved in future. But for us, that’s not enough; we’ve suffered huge damage as a team. It’s not acceptable. That’s why our lawyers are studying the possibility of legal action,” Copeland told Cyclingnews, repeating what he told La Gazzetta dello sport and Tuttobiciweb.

“ASO has insurance for this kind of thing and we’ve suffered clear and important damage as a team. Vincenzo is our team leader, he’s the patrimony of our team and of the sport as a whole, as Prudhomme and Lappartient have said.”

“It’s true that there were barriers where the incident happened but there seems to be clear negligence. The fans invaded the road and the Gendarmerie didn’t do what they should. They also didn’t do anything about the people lighting flares. It’s not easy to control more 600,000 fans as there were the other day but as they’re so powerful and so well organised, some things have to be managed firmly.”

Don’t stay behind Froome because it’s dangerous

The AIGCP team association expressed their concerns about rider safety to Lappartient in a letter before the start of the Tour de France, concerned that the animosity raised by Chris Froome’s salbutamol case could spark some kind of fan reaction during the Tour de France. It seems Lappartient has yet to formally respond to the AIGCP’s concerns.

Froome and Team Sky have been booed numerous occasions but spectators were far more aggressive on L’Alpe d’Huez. One spectator tried to hit Froome on the climb to the finish, with police arresting a person at the finish.

The Tour de France and French police have tried to protect Froome and Team Sky with extra security but Copeland revealed that Bahrain-Merida have told their athletes to avoid riding near Froome to avoid any risks.

“In the past we said: ‘Guys, stay up front to avoid the crashes.’ Now we say: ‘Don’t stay behind Froome, it’s dangerous,'” Copeland explained.

“That’s a grotesque situation: ‘Don’t stay behind a rider because he’s being targeted’ but the truth is that he’s facing the risk of something happening every day. Chris told me that himself when we spoke recently. The other day on L’Alpe d’Huez Vincenzo was behind Froome after he’d attacked. Chris managed to avoid the motorbikes and everything. Vincenzo went down.”

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Geraint Thomas: ‘I have every confidence that cycling is clean at the moment’

Thomas says Sky’s success is down to nothing but hard training, as his time up Alpe d’Huez puts him outside the top 100 of all time

Tour de France race leader Geraint Thomas says that he is “99 per cent” confident that there is currently no doping in cycling, and that the success of himself and the rest of Team Sky is down to nothing more than hard training.

Thomas leads the 2018 Tour de France over Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome after winning two Alpine stages back-to-back. However his time up the Alpe d’Huez was well down the all-time list of fastest ascents, outside the top 100 fastest times and nearly five minutes slower than Marco Pantani’s record ascent in 1995.

“Maybe I got lucky. I don’t know,” Thomas said of his win. “It’s always difficult comparing times because conditions on the road are so different.

“I 100 per cent believe in myself and the team, that we do everything in the right way, along with the majority of the peloton as well.”

>>> Five talking points from stage 13 of the Tour de France

Team Sky have come under fire in recent years with controversies about their use of TUEs and the infamous Jiffy bag incident at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné.

Froome’s high reading for asthma drug salbutamol during his Vuelta a España winning run in 2017 sparked a media storm. However, the UCI dropped the case shortly before this year’s Tour de France, clearing Froome of any wrongdoing.

Due to cycling’s past and so much attention surrounding Team Sky’s success since 2010, the concern has understandably shifted to Thomas in one of cycling’s most iconic jerseys.

“I can’t say 100 per cent for the peloton, but I’m 99 per cent sure that everyone’s doing it the right way, working hard,” the Welshman continued. “I think it’s great for the sport.

“You look at all the anti-doping and all the tests and that type of stuff, and then you look at other sports… Cycling’s leading the way by a million miles so I have every confidence in the sport at the moment.”


Watch: Tour de France 2018 stage 13 highlights


Cycling still has issues to deal with but they appear small compared to the Festina scandal, Operación Puerto and the Armstrong years that rocked the sport over the last couple of decades.

For example it has the highest use of painkiller Tramadol out of all the sports that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) monitors. The agency published a list of its 2017 findings in June, with cycling leading the way with 4.4 per cent in-competition samples showing the drug. However the UCI is now moving to ban the drug for the 2019 season.

Fans have booed Team Sky and Froome constantly throughout the Tour this season, but Thomas said that he couldn’t understand why people reacted that way towards the team.

“I think that’s a question for the people out there,” Thomas said of the booing. “I don’t know why.

“I think we just train hard, work hard, and come here to try to win the race. I think that’s a question for the people on the side of the road.”

Thomas spent his second day in the yellow jersey on stage 13, a sprinters’ stage won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in Valence. On Saturday, he will have to defend it on the short climb to the Mende airstrip.

>>> ‘Everyone wants to sprint now’: Peter Sagan overcomes ‘messy’ sprint to claim third 2018 Tour stage win

“It wasn’t exactly a rest day but for sure it was a lot easier than the last three days. It was nice that it was on fast roads as well, the wind was kind to us. It was good to get that day ticked off,” Thomas explained.

“[The Mende climb] always been a bit of a slog to be honest. I’ve done it a couple of times, I think, maybe in Paris-Nice we’ve done it as well,” he said.

“The last time it wasn’t too bad but it is a tough climb, it’s steep. It’s only 10-11 minutes or something over three kilometres. It’s one of those where you just grit your teeth and go.”

Brit Steve Cummings gave MTN-Qhubeka its first win at the airstrip in 2015, the last time the climb was used. He surprised French hopes Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot.

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‘Everyone wants to sprint now’: Peter Sagan overcomes ‘messy’ finish to claim third 2018 Tour stage win

The world champion says sprints are much more disorganised now many of the top fast men have quit the race

Peter Sagan must overcome “messy sprints” now to win with many top Tour de France sprinters abandoned the 2018 race.

Sagan won his third stage of the 2018 Tour on Friday and added more points to his green jersey lead, but it was not a clean run through the streets of Valence.

“It’s changed, yes, the few teams that want to work are not here anymore,” Sagan said of the Tour sprints.

>>> Five talking points from stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France

Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) placed second and third.

Over the last mountain days, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) quit.

“There are maybe three to five teams who can pull a fast sprint, but now it’s only one to two teams. It changes the bunch now because everyone wants to sprint now. And it’s a pretty messy sprint now!”

Sagan messed around with the press conference microphone, taking off the foam wind cover and tapping it. He fidgeted in his chair, leaning forward and back. Adding more after pausing.

“It’s OK, though, everyone gets an opportunity right? Or they are trying to create opportunities!”

The three-time world champion wears the green points/sprints jersey, but his Bora team primarily leaves the work to the other teams with dedicated sprinter like Groupama-FDJ with Démare.



Trek-Segafredo tried to place John Degenkolb in line for a sprint. Quick-Step launched Philippe Gilbert into an attack at one kilometre out, and Classics men Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert elbowed their way ahead for chance.

Gone are the days of a Quick-Step Floors train for Gaviria or LottoNL for Groenewegen, winning two stages each this year before quitting. The situation looked different, even “messy” in the Slovakian’s eyes.

“Today was messy, with everyone trying to sprint, and the climbers were afraid of gaps, so they were up there too,” Sagan said.

“I was back far in the final K, 20 or 25th spot. I sprinted to get to the front to be on the wheel of Kristoff, maybe in the last 500m.”

Sagan’s team used its energy wisely to control the early break and finally see the end to the escape, the remaining rider being Michael Schär (BMC Racing).

“First, it’s really important to control the break. You can have five to 15 riders in the break. We spoke and decided to control the break from the start,” Sagan said.

“We had four riders up the front, afterwards, we decided to let the sprint team go [to work] to save energy, and I could ride on their wheels.”

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Five talking points from stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France

Peter Sagan shows his brilliance yet again as he wins stage 13 in absence of big name sprinters.

Third stage win for Sagan

Peter Sagan wins stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

The green jersey holder once again showed his class as he timed his sprint to perfection as he out-sprinted Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team-Emirates) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) to take his third stage victory of the 2018 Tour de France.

>>> Peter Sagan edges out Alexander Kristoff for his third victory of the 2018 Tour de France on stage 13

It was typical Peter Sagan as he calmly got into position in the lead-up to the finish, and as his rivals jumped the world champion was always in control as he came past the Norwegian and the Frenchman to extend his lead in the green jersey even further.

After the carnage of the previous days’s stages in the Alps, the route from Bourg d’Oisans to Valence was a quieter affair – one for the the faster men as they looked to capitalise on the big name sprinters falling by the wayside in recent days.

But for Sagan who is normally always present through a duration of the Tour – except for last year when he was controversially ejected after causing a collision with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) on stage four – today was another indication that he is now the rider to beat in the sprints as he showed the cycling world his power with another impressive display.

Groupama-FDJ end up with nothing

Groupama-FDJ on stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

Although their sprinter Démare could only finish third behind Sagan and Kristoff it didn’t stop his team Groupama-FDJ working hard throughout the day to ensure the Frenchman had the best possible chance of victory on stage 13.

Right from the outset, the French team assumed their position at the front of the peloton as they controlled the breakaway for the whole day.

Such was their control that the breakaway which consisted of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Tom Scully (EF Education First), Michael Schär (BMC) and Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis) never held an advantage of over two-and-half minutes as FDJ were intent on giving Démare the best possible chance of victory.

They’ll end the day disappointed though, as Démare wasn’t able to finish off what was an almost textbook lead out from the team, with final lead out man Ramon Sinkeldam dropping his sprinter perfectly in front with less than 200m to go.

Démare just looked without the strength to win today, as he was unable to stop both Kristoff and Sagan from coming from behind to beat him to the line.

A fairly mundane affair

The peloton on stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

Halfway through the stage there was reports that thunderstorms would make the run into Valence rather exciting for the viewers, and more dangerous for the peloton. But sadly the rain and thunder never materialised, meaning the stage never really caught alight despite Sagan showing his brilliance at the finish.

From the previous days where viewers were treated to a GC battle royale in the Alps, which saw Geraint Thomas and Team Sky come away with two successive stage victories and the yellow jersey, today’s 169.5km’s was one for the fast men of the peloton.

But for large parts of the stage it was largely a procession as the sprint teams were intent on making sure the breakaway never got to far out of sight.

Michael Schär’s escape livened up proceedings

Michael Schär rides behind Thomas De Gendt in the breakaway on stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

Having been in the breakaway for the day, the 31-year-old Swiss rider livened up the last 20km’s as he went on a solo attempt for a stage victory. And with the likes of André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step) out of the race, stage 13 presented opportunities to other members of the peloton who were looking for glory.

Ultimately though, the long and wide road leading into Valence put pay to Schär’s attempts of an unlikely victory. Nevertheless it made the final kilometre’s of the race an exciting one as the peloton chased to reel back the BMC man.

Craddock continues his heroic battle

Lawson Craddock climbs Alpe d’Huez on stage 12 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

For American Lawson Craddock (EF Education First-Drapac) the 2018 Tour has been one of attrition and survival after his crash on the opening stage in which he broke his left scapula and suffered a cut above his eye.

But in true American spirit, after the fall, he promised to donate a $100 for each stage he completed to the Alkek Velodrome in his native Houston, Texas which was damaged by Hurricane Harvey last year.

Ever since the American has been bravely battling to survive and unlike the sprinters in the tough mountains stage, many seemed to forget the 26-year-old’s heroics in surviving Alpe d’Huez as he somehow managed to drag himself over 5,000m of climbing on stage 12.

But with stage 13 being a rather mundane affair heading towards Valance, Craddock didn’t have to worry about some tough climbing. But once again he was a finisher, it means his total for his hometown velodrome now stands at $1,300.

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Peter Sagan edges out Alexander Kristoff for his third victory of the 2018 Tour de France on stage 13

Sagan overcomes European champion in final 50m; Arnaud Démare third

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his third victory of the 2018 Tour de France as he out-sprinted Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) on stage 13.

After three tough days in the Alps, the teams of the few remaining sprinters kept the race under tight control with the break never allowed more than two minutes as they made sure everything came back together for the finish in Valence.

Groupama-FDJ had worked hard all day, and led the race into the final kilometre as Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) tried to liven things up with a late attack that was pulled back with 400m to go.

Démare was kept at the very front of the race by lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri, who dropped the Frenchman off with 200m to go with Kristoff and Sagan in his wheel.

Démare launched his bid for victory with 200m to go, but found himself overwhelmed by Kristoff and then Sagan, before the Slovak edged out the European champion to win by half a wheel on the line.

With all of the main contenders finished safely in the bunch the only change to the top of the general classification was caused by the abandonment of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) who did not start the stage after crashing on Alpe d’Huez.

How it happened

With the profile of day suggest that this could be the best chance yet for a breakaway in the 2018 Tour de France there were plenty of attacks in the opening kilometres of stage 13.

Unsurprisingly one of the first men to attack was Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) who was able to get clear with Tom Scully (EF Education First-Drapac), while a number of others including Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) tried and failed to get across.

With a large number of sprinters having been eliminated or abandoned in the Alps, it was up to Groupama-FDJ and Bora-Hansgrohe to stop too many more riders getting away.

Despite those efforts Michael Schär (BMC Racing) and Dmitry Claeys (Cofidis) were able to slip off the front but found themselves struggling to close the gap to De Gendt and Scully and having to expend a lot of effort to make the junction.

From there the race settled down with the four riders out front extending their lead to around two minutes and no further as Groupama-FDJ, UAE Team Emirates, and Bora-Hansgrohe kept them on a very short leash.

The gap remained steady for around 70km, but fell to less than a minute by the 60km to go mark as the break climbed the fourth-category Côte de Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans.

Groupama-FDJ and Bora-Hansgrohe continued to control the pace through the next 30km as the gap to the leaders fell to just 30 seconds, at which point Michael Schär decided to take things into his own hands to attack out of the break and extend his lead out to 45 seconds.

However the peloton was never going to let the Swiss rider ride clear, continuing to close the gap back to 20 seconds with 12km to go, and making the catch with 5.5 remaining with Team Sunweb and Team Sky controlling the front of the bunch to keep Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome out of trouble.

With four kilometres to go the sprinters’ teams took over once again with Groupama-FDJ and Bora-Hansgrohe moving to the front and Daniel Oss raising the pace to string the bunch out.

Trek-Segafredo were the next to move to the front with two men in front of John Degenkolb with two kilometres to go, and the German followed by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates). But as the pace slackened with one kilometres to go Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) attacked leaving Groupama-FDJ to chase.

Gilbert was able to open a decent gap, but faded quickly as Groupama-FDJ shut the move down and put Arnaud Démare in a perfect position to open his sprint from the front.

Démare was the first to go with 200m to go, but was soon challenged by Kristoff and Sagan, with both men able to come over the top of the Frenchman and Sagan edge out the European champion for the win.

Meanwhile all of the general classification contenders finished safely in the bunch, meaning there was no change to the top 10 of the overall standings.

Results

Tour de France 2018, stage 13: Bourg d’Oisans to Valence, 169.5km

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-45-55
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
6. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
7. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
8. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac, all at same time

General classification after stage 13

1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, in 53-10-38
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-39
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-50
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 2-46
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 3-07
6. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 3-13
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 3-43
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 4-13
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 5-11
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 5-45

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Can Geraint Thomas win the Tour de France? Experts give their verdict

Thomas has shown to be in great form through the first two weeks of the Tour de France – but can he hold on to win it?

Geraint Thomas (Sky) won two consecutive summit stages, including Alpe d’Huez and wears the race leader’s yellow jersey, now leading experts say he can win the 2018 Tour de France.

The Welshman leads the race with 1-39 minute, a time gap that looks even better given it is over team-mate Chris Froome. In third, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) sits at 1-50.

“I think so,” Quick-Step Floors sports director Brian Holm responded when asked if Thomas can win the Tour.

>>> Team Sky’s dilemma: should Geraint Thomas now be considered their Tour de France leader?

“He’s an amazing rider, he’s a good looking British gentleman. Winning two stages in a row is amazing, and when you win two stages like that in a row… He’ll win the Tour de France.”

Thomas’s lead was built on avoiding the bad luck that struck his rivals in the opening week and strong climbing legs in the Alpine stages. He rode away from his rivals, and Froome, at La Rosière and the Alpe d’Huez finishes.

“I think he can win this Tour de France,” Trek-Segafredo director, Steven De Jongh said. “He’s in a very comfortable position, he has the strongest team, so without any bad luck I see him winning this.”



“For sure, yes,” added Rik Verbrugghe, sports director at Bahrain-Merida. “In the past he’s shown that he has [one bad day], but he’s strong, and when you see Sky has a strong team, then it’s difficult to play the two horses. They have to make some choices that we’ll see deeper into the race.”

If the climbs or circumstances do not eliminate one of them, then Sky will have to decide if they are backing Thomas in yellow or four-time winner Froome.

Froome is aiming for a record-equalling fifth title and to become the eighth to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour in one season.

After some transfer stages, including the short climb to Mende on Saturday, Thomas faces three tough Pyrenean stages and the final hurdle, the time trial, on stage 20.

“The pressure in the team is definitely one [of the hurdles for him winning] and the factor that Chris is wanting to equal [the record], so there’s pressure in there,” Dimension Data’s team principal, Doug Ryder added.

“They hardly have any competition left. They can both go top three definitely, but the TT will be a critical factor too.”

Ryder indicated Thomas’s main issue would be with Froome. “Potentially yes,” he continued. “It’ll be interesting to watch for all of us.”

“The biggest challenge is going to be a bloke called Chris Froome,” Holm said. “Some may might say the race is boring because Sky is so strong, but I think it’s going to be exciting to see how they are going to [deal with] Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. It could come down to the last TT, I cross my fingers for Geraint.”

Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas at the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

The team’s biggest rival could be Tom Dumoulin, sitting third overall at 1-50. He won the 2017 Giro d’Italia and placed second to Froome this May in the 2018 edition.

“[Thomas is] sitting in a really good situation,” Sunweb sports director Luke Rowe said. “He has a handy lead – over his team-mate. He has a strong team to support him. He will be pretty difficult to beat from here unless he has a bad day or something happens along the route. It’s a good situation for him.”

“I think that Sky can play two horses, so the pressure is not really on Thomas,” added Verbrugghe. “Froome is still within contact. It’s less pressure for [Froome], and that could be better for [Thomas].”

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Tour de France boss criticises ‘reckless’ fans and calls for end to booing of Team Sky after Alpe d’Huez chaos

Christian Prudhomme slams fans for letting off flares on Alpe d’Huez

The boss of the Tour de France has criticised the behaviour of fans on Alpe d’Huez and called for an end to the booing of Team Sky at the race.

The team were given a hostile reception at the pre-race team presentation in the west of France two weeks ago, but climbed Alpe d’Huez yesterday to a chorus of boos with boos and whistles also greeting Geraint Thomas’s victory and the presentation of his yellow jersey.

>>> Team Sky’s dilemma: should Geraint Thomas now be considered their Tour de France leader?

“The riders of the Tour, the champions of this race, need to be respected,” Christian Prudhomme, race director of the Tour de France told AFP. “I heard the whistles on Alpe d’Huez, just as I did in the Vendée.

“On the roadside it’s been calm for the past 10 days or so, with very few anti-Sky or anti-Froome banners. But suddenly, we’ve seen a lot more.

“All I can do is renew calls for calm, for good sense and for serenity with regard to the riders on the Tour de France.”


Watch: Tour de France 2018 stage 12 highlights


Prudhomme, who has been the race director since 2007, also criticised the actions of fans on Alpe d’Huez, with a number carry flares that blew smoke into the faces of the riders, while a pinch-point in the fans combined with passing police motorbikes caused Vincenzo Nibali to crash and ultimately abandon the race.

“Some fans have only one wish: to be on television and take a selfie,” Prudhomme continued. “We don’t want to see that again.

>>> Luke Rowe ‘light-heartedly’ tears down anti-Team Sky banner before Tour de France start in Lorient

“Rocket flares don’t belong on bike races. They make the riders breathe in noxious air and they blind them. It just doesn’t make sense.

“The vast majority of the fans on the roadside are well-meaning but yesterday, on the second half of the climb, the public were at times a little reckless.”

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Burgos-BH’s Igor Merino suspended for growth hormone

Igor Merino (Burgos-BH) has tested positive for growth hormone and been temporarily suspended, the UCI announced Thursday. The non-negative sample was taken mid-June in Spain.

The Spanish Professional Continental team, who have received a wild card invitation to the Vuelta a España, have also suspended the rider and promised an investigation.

In a statement, the team said that Merino has “immediately removed from the team” and that “our work philosophy has always been the maintenance of the most rigid and demanding standards against doping”.

It added: “The team will immediately initiate internal investigations to find out and clarify the situation of our rider, within the applicable legal sports framework, reiterating our commitment and zero tolerance on doping.”

It is not the team’s first experience with doping problems. In May 2017 it was announced that David Belda had tested positive for EPO in a targeted out-of-competition test, reportedly based on suspicious biological passport data. He was subsequently give a four-year ban.

Merino, 27, turned pro in 2012 with Orbea and has been with Burgos since 2014. His top career result is fourth in the Tour du Jura in 2017.

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