Peter Sagan thrashed his rivals in the fight for the green jersey when he won the seventh stage of the Tour de France after a fine tactical move by his Cannondale team on Friday.
Sagan outsprinted German John Degenkolb and Italian Daniele Bennati at the end of a 205.5-km ride from Montpellier to move 94 points clear in the points classification.
Rivals Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel scored no points on the day after being dropped following a brutal acceleration by Cannondale on a tricky climb and finishing almost 15 minutes behind Sagan.
“After my first-day crash, I didn’t feel very good and I trusted in myself every day and now, day by day, I feel better and today came my first victory in the Tour de France and I thank my team,” said Sagan.
“I am very happy and I thank my team because without my team I couldn’t have done what I did. This victory is for all our team.”
South African Daryl Impey retained the overall leader’syellow jersey, which he will probably lose after Saturday’s first mountain stage, a 195-km trek between Castres and Ax-3-Domaines.
“We came out here today to protect the jersey and we have done that,” Impey said in a television interview.
Pre-race favourites Alberto Contador and Chris Froome made it safely to the finish but American Christian Vande Velde abandoned after being involved in a huge crash after 11 kilometres.