Sagan’s already on a roll; Aussie Spratt leads Giro Rosa: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Peter Sagan has started the 2018 Tour de France quickly with two stage wins already. Is the Slovakian on the cusp of a record-breaking Tour? We look at the remaining stages that suit Sagan and see if he could match or break the record of the most stage wins in one Tour de France.

Quote of the day:

”When [Sylvain] Chavanel attacked, [Lilian] Calmejane just sat on. I got frustrated after dragging him for free for 30 kilometres, and that’s why I attacked to catch Chavanel. And he still said he wouldn’t ride, because I looked too fresh and too strong. That seemed inappropriate to me.” — Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) on the tactics of fellow stage five breakaway rider Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie).

Story of the day: Peter Sagan seems on the brink of a record-breaking Tour

Slovakian Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has gotten off to a quick start at the 2018 Tour de France, capturing his second victory in only five stages on Wednesday. The win gave Sagan his 10th career stage victory at the Tour, making him the 34th rider to achieve double-digit stage wins at the Grande Boucle.

On top of that, Sagan pulled on his 90th green jersey after stage five. That figure is impressive considering he is only riding his seventh career Tour and, to date, has only competed in 114 Tour stages. This means he’s worn the green jersey 79-percent of the time.

Furthermore, Sagan’s fast start bodes the question of whether the three-time world champion could match or beat the record of eight stage wins at one Tour de France. The feat has only been accomplished by three riders — Charles Pélissier (1930), Eddy Merckx (1970, 1974), and Freddy Maertens (1976).

Looking at the parcours, there are nine stages left that suit Sagan’s abilities. This number includes stage 14, which finishes in Mende with a three-kilometre climb that averages 10-percent. This may be right on the edge of Sagan’s abilities and coming after three tough days in the Alps it seems unlikely he will contesting the win.

So, realistically Sagan has eight stages left where he could be victorious. Tomorrow’s stage atop the Mûr de Bretagne (2km at 6.9%) suits him perfectly and as does stage nine’s jaunt across the cobblestones. Stage 15 could very well be good for Sagan, as there is a category one climb that peaks 40 kilometres from the finish. He may not be able to go over the climb in the front group, but he could very well catch back on with such a far distance to the finish from the top of the climb.

The remaining stages are flat finishes and Sagan will have a hard time beating Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors). It’s also important to note that Sagan has never won more than three stages in one Tour de France and that came back when he debuted at the race in 2012.

It remains to be seen how many stage wins Sagan will capture in 2018 and let us know in the comments section how many victories you think Sagan will get at this year’s Tour de France.

Dispatches from the Tour de France

Sagan takes Tour de France stage 5 with strong uphill sprint

World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won his second stage win of this year’s Tour in Quimper on stage five. He went head-to-head with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) on the uphill drag to the finish, but then managed to power clear in the final metres to finish well ahead. He extended his lead in the green jersey competition as well.

“The parcours was a little bit like the Ardennes,” said Sagan at the end. “Up, down, left, right, narrow roads. It was a little technical…it was a nice parcours.

“I was a little bit lucky, because Colbrelli was coming close again. My teammates did a very good job. From the middle of the stage, they were pulling on the front. They brought me into a good position for the final climb. Sky then started to pull full gas. Gilbert came over and tried to attack, but we got him. After that Van Avermaet started too early and in the end he pulled a very good sprint for me and Colbrelli.”

Click through to read our full report of Sagan’s victory on stage 5 of the Tour de France.

Reporter’s Notebook

The side stories, overheard remarks, and insider info floating around the Tour de France, straight from our reporter’s notebooks to the DND.

Tejay van Garderen to EF

Tejay van Garderen will ride for EF-Education First-Drapac in 2019, according to a source familiar with the negotiation process, confirming the swirling rumours around the American. “It’s a done deal,” this person said.

Pronouncing Toms Skujins

First of all, Toms Skujins is the first Latvian to wear one of the Tour’s jerseys, as he put on the KOM jersey at the end of stage five. Second, it seems that announcers have quite a bit of trouble with his name. Here it is, from the man himself:

Immediate Matthews quarantine

Michael Matthews fell ill early Wednesday morning. He vomited and called the team doctor, who put him into team quarantine. This is standard practice for teams — sick riders get their own rooms and don’t travel on the bus. Germs are the enemy and they spread like wildfire across the tired immune systems of Tour riders. Team busses almost always have a bottle of hand sanitizer right by the door.

Click through to get all the details on Matthews’ abandonment.

Tomorrow’s Tour stage

Start: Brest
Finish: Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan
Length: 181km

The finish atop the Mûr de Bretagne (2km at 6.9%) should be the first time the overall contenders show their faces. Cadel Evans won atop the Mûr in 2011 and used it as a launch pad to begin his pursuit of overall victory. The riders will tackle the climb on two occasions on stage six, the first ascent coming with about 16 kilometres to go. This is definitely a stage not to miss.

Race Radio

Spratt captures first summit finish, leads GC

Australian Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) flexed her climbing muscles and conquered the first summit finish of the 2018 Giro Rosa on top of the category 2 Gerola Alta climb. She also donned the maglia rosa leader’s jersey at the end of the day.

It was a Mitchelton-Scott one-two finish, as Annemiek van Vleuten finished second 29 seconds back. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) rounded out the podium two seconds behind van Vleuten.

Pink jersey holder, Ruth Winder (Sunweb) couldn’t quite hold the pace on the final climb and slipped away from the lead group.

Winder fought valiantly to the finish and managed to finish strong enough to still hold a high placing in the general classification. She sits second overall at 30 seconds behind Spratt and van Vleuten is third at 33 seconds.

Tomorrow, the riders will tackle the “race of truth.” The seventh stage is an individual time trial up the category 1 Alpe Gera Di Campo Moro. The climb is 15 kilometres long and climbs around 1,000 metres. This stage will definitely shake-up the general classification and could cause substantial time gaps.

Moving pictures

Adam Hansen: ‘The Tour is bigger than I ever thought’

We caught up with Adam Hansen during stage three of the 2018 Tour de France, where rather than racing his 21st Grand Tour he was commentating for Eurosport.

Giro Rosa stage 6 highlights

Tour de France stage 5 highlights

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