Peter Sagan won the Tour de France's seventh stage to Albi today and underlined his capability of winning a second consecutive green jersey.
The Slovakian's Cannondale team blew the race apart for the intermediate sprint and kept on driving to the finish. Thanks to their effort, Sagan gained another 65 points in the classification.
"We wanted to drop the sprinters for the sprint, we did," Sagan said in a press conference. "After that I said 'If you have the energy, let's do it.'"
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) lost pace in the hills.
John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) remained, but had no response to Sagan's sprint.
Sagan did it. He gained the maximum points, 45, for the win and 20 at the intermediate sprint. He now leads Greipel by 94 points.
"Today went very well. We thought, OK if it went well then we could get points, but not this much," Sagan said.
"The Tour's just started, even I could have some bad days. If I'm going well, I'd like to try to go in an escape in a few days to see if I can do something different. I'll see what's possible, but these points today serve me well."
Fabio Sabatini returned to the team bus first, greeted by "bravo." Sweat dripped off him from his effort, but also from the draining 32 degree temperatures and the running bus motors.
Cannondale sports director, Stefano Zanatta said he was pleased with Sabatini's work in the lead-out and with what the rest of the team did during the 205-kilometre stage, as their effort puts them in prime position to take this year's green jersey.
"Yeah, for sure, Greipel took full points yesterday, but Peter was able to take some home as well for second place. Today, Peter took full points at the intermediate sprint and the finish, and the others didn't," Zanatta explained.
"The points are ideal, but you've got to understand that we can't do 100 kilometres of team time trial in every stage. We did more than 100km, but we can't do that every day."
The team's effort proved Sagan is back to his best - the 2012 vintage - after his crash in stage one. Sagan's finishing touch underlined that he will not loosen his grip on the maillot vert easily.
Tour de France 2013: Related links
Tour de France 2013: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Leaked contract shows Manuela Fundación tried to buy Mitchelton-Scott for €7 million
The failed takeover of the Australian squad, now called Team BikeExchange, caused confusion in June last year
By Jonny Long •
'I hope he doesn't think I'm some fanatic weirdo': Man fulfils promise to get Mark Cavendish tattoo if he won another race
Paul James has paid homage to the sprinter's comeback with a tattoo of the Tour de France green jersey winner
By Jonny Long •