July 11, 2018 0 Comments
Today was all about the final climb. Pasqua tells us he thinks he was one of only four sprinters to hit the last ascent at the front. But the man who really impressed him most in the finale was Philippe Gilbert of Quick-Step Floors who blasted up the climb to finish the stage in 3rd place, just behind BORA-hansgrohe's World Champion Peter Sagan and Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain-Merida. BMC Racing Team's Greg van Avermaet retained the yellow jumper. Pasqua bagged 9th - another top 10 finish at Le Tour for the #TeamWGG man. Impressive.
Today's stage profile, more reminiscent of a one-day Classic, always suggested a more lively race than the previous flat transition stage, and so it played out. A break of seven riders got away early but never built up a convincing lead - sadly no Team WGG guys made the move - suggesting perhaps they had a different plan for this stage. The group that did escape was very strong and was never going to be allowed too much elastic. BMC Racing Team with GVA in yellow were attentive throughout. Pasqua's teammates were saving their legs for the critical moments later in the stage.
Sadly for our hill climbing Kiwi friend Dion Smith the 8 KOM points that were on offer were hoovered up by the break and he has dropped to 4th place in that competition. Toms Skujins of Trek-Segefredo is the new leader with 4 points.
The first hilly stage of the 2018 Tour certainly had some riders concerned. Mark Cavendish was an early casualty, slipping off the back of the group as the peloton crested the first climb of the day, but easily rejoining on the descent.
The uphill finish always promised to provide the fireworks of the stage that would suit one of the lighter sprinters or a puncheur. Mixing it with Peter Sagan, who seems to be able to sprint on just about any terrain, was Dan Martin of UAE-Team Emirates, Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors, Valverde of Movistar, and Nibali of Bahrain-Merida. All classy riders who have proved their worth time and again. Great company for Pasqua to be mixing with.
Wanty-Groupe Gobert signing on for Stage 5
Pasqua remains confident of repeating a strong finish again tomorrow on a stage that remains probably his best chance of a stage victory. Let's see how the stage plays out. Here's how he summarised the day:
"The whole team did an excellent job, with Yoann Offredo and Dion Smith as perfect examples. Despite their crash at fifty kilometers from the line, they still delivered a good job. Yoann brought me to the front in the final kilometers. I was ideally placed behind Gilbert, Alaphilippe, Nibali and Sagan. Unfortunately, Boasson-Hagen lost Van Avermaet's wheel, so there was a gap. I was able to close the gap, but lost valuable energy. With 300 meter to go I was locked in on the right side.
6th or 7th place was possible, but I am happy with this 9th place. There were not many sprinters left in the first group. I have never climbed the Mur de Bretagne, but I think it is more of an arrival that suits Valverde or Alaphilippe. But with good legs I have to be able to finish between the strongest."
Possibly the last time Dion Smith will be seen in spots this Tour
And the ASO daily stage summary:
Peter Sagan won one more uphill sprint in the first week of the Tour de France after stage 1 to Seraing and stage 3 to Boulogne-sur-Mer in 2012, stage 2 to Cherbourg in 2016 and stage 3 to Longwy in 2017 as he outsprinted Sonny Colbrelli just like in La Roche-sur-Yon on stage 2. Greg Van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey.
Check back tomorrow for more from inside the peloton at the 2018 Tour de France.
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