Tour de France: Pete Sagan wins stage two amid more pile-ups

Peter Sagan
Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan pulled on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France by winning a chaotic second stage that saw a big crash in the closing stages hold up most of the peleton.

World champion Sagan held off a late charge from Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) to win from a much-reduced sprint after a big pile-up in the final two kilometres - with Chris Froome this time doing a better job of staying out of trouble.

With stage one winner Fernando Gaviria among those caught out, Bora-Hansgrohe's Sagan moves into the yellow jersey on bonus seconds after finishing second on Saturday.

But there were only a handful of men left to contest stage honours after a nasty right-hander two kilometres from the finish saw a number of riders hit the deck.

Froome and his Sky team-mates were also left behind but they did at least stay upright, 24 hours after Froome lost 51 seconds to most of his general classification rivals thanks to a tumble in the final six kilometres.

With the incident here coming in the final three kilometres, none of those held up will suffer time losses on general classification.

Mark Cavendish's hopes of a 31st career Tour stage win were also scuppered by the incident but the Dimension Data rider stayed upright.

The dramatic pile-up capped another nervous finale to the race, with Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates among those to fall in the final 35km. The Bury rider, who like Froome lost time thanks to a crash on the opening stage, quickly made his way back to the pack but with his left shoulder scuffed up.

Astana's key man Luis Leon Sanchez was not so lucky, forced to abandon after hitting the deck hard, while Romain Bardet's domestique Silvan Dillier also fell.

Those incidents came as the speed picked up and the peloton reeled in Sylvain Chavanel, the Direct Energie rider who had been away solo since the 35km marker on the 182.5km stage from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain.

The 39-year-old, competing in a record 18th Tour de France and his 350th stage, enjoyed his day in the spotlight, sitting up to high-five fans in the towns early in the day as the peloton was happy to let him go.

He was finally caught with 13km left, setting up an intense battle for position on the road into La Roche-sur-Yon.

Marcel Kittel, winner of five stages in last year's Tour, saw his hopes of contesting the sprint effectively ended by a flat rear tyre with 7.5km to go, but the bigger incident was still to come.

Sagan leads by six seconds from Gaviria, but the more notable name near the top of the general classification is Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, who sits in seventh, 15 seconds off the lead.

The Welshman nicked third place in the bonus sprint late on the stage to move one second clear of the rest of the main contenders, and he will hope for Team Sky victory in Monday's team time trial to propel him into yellow.

Yates and Froome sit in 81st and 84th places respectively, 67 seconds off yellow but more concerned about the 51 second gap to the likes of Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).

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