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Tour de France 2018: Peter Sagan wins Stage 2 to go into yellow

Pete Muir
8 Jul 2018

Sagan takes the yellow jersey from Fernando Gaviria who crashes in the final 2km

World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has won the second stage of the 2018 Tour de France in a closely-fought sprint. His win means that he takes the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors).

Gaviria was looking good for a second stage win until 2km to go, when a crash on a 90° right hand bend brought him down along with a number of other sprint favourites.

The GC contenders managed to stay upright in the final kilometres of the stage, meaning that there is no significant change to the their relative positions on the general classification.

The story of the stage

The early stages of this year’s Tour de France were made for the sprinters. However, by the beginning of Stage 2 there was already a significant amount of time between the main GC contenders.

A series of crashes, hold-ups and mechanicals in the final kilometres of Stage 1 meant that some of the favourites already had time to make up.

Those who managed to avoid the problems and finish on the same time as the sprinters included Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Mikel Landa (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (EF-Drapac) and Dan Martin (UAE Emirates). 

After Team Sky's Chris Froome crashed towards the end of Stage 1, he found himself in a chasing group along with Richie Porte (BMC) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), all of whom finished 01'01" behind the leaders.

Movistar's Nairo Quintana suffered a mechanical, which left him 01'25" adrift of the leaders, and threw a question mark over who would be Movistar's lead rider for the remainder of the race.

Having won the first stage, and wearing the yellow jersey, Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) lead the peloton away from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain for the 182.5km of Stage 2 to La Roche-sur-Yon in the northwest of France.

Early on, three riders formed the breakaway: Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Énergie), Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo) and Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). Once the three were away, the main pack closed ranks to ensure that no other riders could join the break.

However, the breakaway trio would soon be down to one. Smith was focussed on winning the climber's polka dot jersey, and once he had secured that after the only classified climb came early in the stage, he was called back to the bunch to help his team.

Gogl, meanwhile, seemed to suffer some sort of injury, possibly an insect sting, and he too returned to the safety of the main pack. That left Chavanel on his own with the daunting prospect of a 140km solo ride in high temperatures.

The veteran French rider dug in for a long day, no doubt encouraged by his sponsor Vendée, the region through which the stage was riding.

Controlling the race, Quick-Step Floors spent the majority of the day riding at the front of the peloton, keeping Chavanel at around four minutes. The rest of the teams seemed happy to let the Belgian squad do the hard work, and preserve energy for final sprint.

With around 40km to go, the pace of main bunch began to creep up, quickly reducing Chavanel’s lead to around 01'45". All the teams were no doubt aware that the final few kilometres promised to be technical and, as such, each team was keen to stay out of trouble by staying near the front of the pack.

As the nervousness increased in the peloton, British rider Adam Yates found himself on the floor, but not seriously hurt, and he managed to get back into the pack.

With 15km to go, the GC teams moved to the front in order to protect their leaders, with Sky, Movistar and BMC setting the pace. They eventually swarmed past Chavanel with 13km left of the race.

One of the main favourites for the stage, Marcel Kittel (Katusha) suffered a puncture with 7km to go, and struggle to make it back into a pack that was now in full flight.

In the final 5km, Peter Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe team took up position on the front, which spurred Quick-Step to push forward and resume their usual position at the head of proceedings.

A sharp right hander at 2km brought down several riders, including yellow jersey Gaviria and Michael Matthews (Sunweb). 

That left a small group of around 20 riders fighting for the win, including Sagan, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ).

Demare was first to go for the sprint, but Sagan latched onto his wheel and came round him to take the win ahead of Bahrain-Merida's Sonny Colbrelli, with Demare in third place.