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