Tour de France 2018: Peter Sagan Wins Stage 13, Geraint Thomas Leads Field

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2018

Slovakia's Peter Sagan, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 169.5 kilometers (105.3 miles) with start in Bourg d'Oisans and finish in Valence, France, Friday July 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Peter Sagan won Stage 13 of the 2018 Tour de France after a late sprint finish saw him cross the line first at Bourg-d'Oisans in Valence on Friday.

Sagan finished ahead of UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff and Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ.

It's a third stage win this year for Bora-Hansgrohe's Sagan, who retained the green jersey, while Geraint Thomas remains in the overall lead.

Sagan had set the pace after a frantic finish:

the Inner Ring @inrng

Top-10 on Stage 13 #TDF2018 https://t.co/ViXSsycOqz

Yet it's Team Sky's Thomas who still leads the way in the general classification:

ITV Cycling @itvcycling

@ITV4 And how it affects the GC #TDF2018 https://t.co/DW5KuuDMqV

Afterwards, Sagan reflected on keeping his winning run going:

Le Tour de France @LeTour

🎙 @petosagan « I’m very happy to win again today / je suis vraiment contente d’avoir gagné à nouveau aujourd’hui » #TDF2018 https://t.co/uoYmTHCILM

Le Tour de France @LeTour

1⃣1⃣. The number of stage victories on @letour. Le nombre de victoires d'étape sur @letour. #TDF2018 https://t.co/cA8ZdD5MhB

The stage had begun under something of a cloud, following the news Vincenzo Nibali had left the race due to a shoulder injury after a crash during Stage 12. Bahrain-Merida team doctor Emilio Magni confirmed the news to Tuttobiciweb (h/t Cycling News).

With Nibali unable to compete, Friday's race began with Thomas De Gendt and Stefan Kung attempting an early break. However, Demare and FDJ kept the pair in sight.

FDJ had an early grip on the peloton, but De Gendt continued to fight to maintain the break further ahead. He, Michael Schar, Tom Scully and Dimitri Claeys had a lead of over two minutes on the peloton with 83 kilometres left.

The foursome's advantage was pegged back to one minute and 45 seconds with 70 kilometres remaining. There was some separation among the peloton after the climb at Cote Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans, with the lead being reduced to 40 seconds.

Sagan's team-mate Tobias Ludvigsson was working hard to rein in the four leaders. The peloton had plenty of motivation to keep the break in sight:

Mikkel Condé v2.0 @mrconde

Halfway through a Grand Tour with lots of sprinters out of the race already. No wonder that the peloton works so hard to keep Thomas De Gendt on a short leash at all time. Big day for Démare, maybe his best chance to win a stage this year. #TDF2018

De Gendt withdrew with 25 kilometres remaining, leaving Schar to lead the break, albeit with a slender advantage of just 25 seconds.

Even so, Schar was still on the front as the tricky final 15 kilometres approached:

Mihai Cazacu @faustocoppi60

There is some risk of echelons in the last 15 km. The wind shouldn't be strong enough but the speed of the peloton will be mighty high. 👀 #TDF2018

His lead wouldn't last much longer, though, as Sagan's team made its move:

BORA – hansgrohe @BORAhansgrohe

🇫🇷 #TDF2018 the whole #BORAhansgrohe squad now moving up with @petosagan 12k to go, Schär will be caught soon! 📷 ASO/Broadway https://t.co/MjDx5YFUP1

Although he still held the lead for another 9.5 kilometres, Schar was eventually reeled in. A bunch formed with Daniel Oss, Demare and John Degenkolb among those involved.

It was Philippe Gilbert's cue to launch a late attack and sneak on to the front. The Quick-Step Floors rider stayed there briefly until Demare reasserted himself with Kristoff not far off his wheel.

However, Sagan timed his move perfectly to round the pair and claim the stage.

While he's padded his points tally, Sagan and the rest will know Thomas is still in control ahead of Saturday's stage at Mende.