Slovakian Peter Sagan won his 10th career Tour de France stage on the day he wore the green sprinter’s jersey for a record 89th time in Tour history.
Sagan, the three-time world road race champion, beat Italian Sonny Colbrelli to the uphill finish of stage five on Wednesday. It’s Sagan’s second stage win of this year’s Tour.
“It was a little bit lucky because Colbrelli was coming close again,” said Sagan, who also relegated Colbrelli to runner-up in stage two Sunday.
German Erik Zabel wore the green jersey as the top sprinter 88 times in the 1990s and 2000s as he won a record six points classifications, according to Gracenote. Sagan will match Zabel’s record six titles if he’s in green in Paris on July 29.
In the yellow jersey race, Belgian Greg Van Avermaet increased his overall standings lead from zero to two seconds by earning a time bonus with seven miles left on Wednesday.
But Van Avermaet, the Rio Olympic road race champion, mistimed his sprint, helping allow Sagan to win.
“I don’t know if he did it on purpose or if he wanted to drop everybody but I have to say thanks,” Sagan said.
After a move from Philippe Gilbert, Van Avermaet accelerated out of the final turn with 300 meters to go but couldn’t maintain his pace.
“I tried to win the stage, but it was pretty complicated,” Van Avermaet said. “Phil went early, and he’s still pretty close on GC (general classification) so I couldn’t let him go. I think I went too early in the sprint. I thought the corner was closer to the finish than it really was.”
Van Avermaet, the Rio Olympic road race champion, had been tied with BMC teammate Tejay van Garderen for the overall race lead, but van Garderen did not become the second (or sixth) American to wear the yellow jersey due to a tiebreaker.
Van Avermaet is expected to cede the lead in upcoming cobblestone or mountain stages. He hopes the man to take it is BMC team leader Richie Porte.
Porte and the rest of the overall contenders for the title finished in the same time with the peloton on Wednesday,
The Tour de France continues Thursday with stage six, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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