Sagan victory hints at further improvement

Rafa Nadal off shopping.JPG

Rafa Nadal off shopping.JPG

Chris Froome calmly dropped back to his team vehicle to get his seat adjusted by a mechanic.

As riders swerved slightly, a wave went through the pack that brought down 15 or 20 of them, ending Domont's Tour with a trip to the local emergency ward.

Belgian Greg van Avermaet hung on for dear life on the 2-km climb at an average gradient of 6.9 percent to retain the overall leader's yellow jersey.

And with teams reduced from nine to eight members for the first time on the 2018 edition, any loss is felt even more keenly than ever. "You're happy it was a sunny day, no wind, without stress". "Third is okay, if I win what do I get except an extra point or two?"

"I was afraid of the crosswinds and maybe it was adrenalin but the legs were there and it all worked out". Greg van Avermaet remains in the yellow jersey.

Gaviria and Sagan were marking each other when Groenewegen surprised both and surged ahead on the final straight.

Five years after his first stage win and the last Irish victory on the Tour, at Bagneres-du-Bigorres in the Pyrenees, Martin took glory on the shorter but equally steep slopes of the aptly named Mur de Bretagne, or "Wall of Brittany". I was quite excited and when I kicked my power was pretty good actually, but it wasn't enough. "I was picking wheels and seemed to be a good position", the Manxman said.

After crossing the line, Groenewegen placed his finger to his lips in a gesture of silence.

Astana's Jakob Fuglsang did not fall foul of the race jury despite enduring a similar chase back on himself, earlier in the stage.

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"It was quite long - 230k". Van Avermaet said. "But everyone kind of enjoyed it - the first day we could really relax".

"Gilbert attacked a bit early, trying to drop everybody".

A four-man breakaway earned a seven-minute advantage before being swallowed up late.

Laurent Pichon, another French rider with Fortuneo-Samsic, then also got away alone for a spell.

It's set up for a sprint, but watch out as there's a kick at the end - the finale is a 600 metres kick-up at 4% before the last 200 metres flatten out.

The overall favorites should be tested again in Roubaix, before heading down to the Alps next week.

Dan Martin won the stage, meanwhile, surging clear on the lower slopes of the Mur de Bretagne to claim the second Tour de France stage win of his career.

Peter Sagan had the yellow jersey holder to thank for his victory in Stage 5 of the Tour de France on Wednesday.

Friday's 231-kilometer seventh stage will take the cyclists from Fougeres to Chartes.

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