Sagan dashes to stage win No. 8
LONGWY, FRANCE» Shaking off an equipment glitch in the furious finishing sprint, Peter Sagan bagged his eighth career Tour de France stage victory on Monday with an impressive display of power and quickthinking on a short, sharp final uphill dash.
Geraint Thomas of Team Sky retained the yellow jersey he’s held since the opening stage in Germany, as the race swung into France, to the former steel town of Longwy. But he is not planning to hold on to it forever: The team’s goal is for three-time champion Chris Froome to be wearing the jersey when the Tour rolls into Paris on July 23.
Thomas and Froome got through Stage 3 unscathed, the main goal for them and others eyeing overall victory rather than stage wins.
The pack of riders stretched like a piece of string into single file on the fast, winding downhill into Longwy before the final climb on Nuns’ Hill that seemed tailor-made for the strengths of Sagan, the world champion.
Australian rider Richie Porte, a contender for overall victory, showed he’s in fearsome form by powering away from the pack in the first stages of the climb. But Sagan was watching closely behind him and never let Porte get too far ahead.
Sagan seemed to be cruising to victory until his right foot slipped from his pedal in the last few hundred meters.
“I said to myself, ‘What’s happening?’ ” the Slovak star of the German BoraHansgrohe team said.
But he quickly recovered without losing speed, clipping his foot back into place and holding off to the line Michael Matthews, an Australian with Sunweb, and Dan Martin, an Irishman with Quickstep.
Froome was ninth on the stage, showing no apparent side effects from a crash on wet roads Sunday that shaved skin off his buttocks. He moved up from sixth to second overall, 12 seconds behind Thomas.
Porte finished the stage in the same group as Froome and Thomas — two seconds behind Sagan.