LONGWY (France) • World champion Peter Sagan won his eighth Tour de France stage despite a technical glitch on the uphill finish to the third stage in Longwy yesterday.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider's foot came unclipped from his pedal as he started to accelerate at the finish, but he kept his calm and still proved too strong for the competition at the end of the 212.5km run from Verviers in Belgium.
He finished ahead of Australian Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) with Ireland's Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) in third.
Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) had to settle for fourth.
Sagan appeared to drop a gear in the decisive uphill sprint as he launched his attack but still had the power to race clear of his rivals.
The Slovak had been favoured to triumph on the short, sharp climb at the end of a rolling stage.
BMC's Richie Porte tried an attack with 800m left which brought a brief response from his general classification rivals, but when the Australian spotted Sagan on his wheels, he eased off.
This was an eighth career stage win for Sagan, who is aiming to win the points leaders' green jersey for a record-equalling sixth time in a row.
"It was not easy, it was a lot of stress in the peloton," Sagan said. "In the end, a pretty hard climb, BMC did a very good job for Richie .
"After I decided, 'Okay I go', it was 400m to go, I start my sprint and I put my foot out of my clip. I thought, 'Another mistake!' but I won. I'm very happy."
Britain's Geraint Thomas of Team Sky finished two seconds off the pace but retained the overall leader's yellow jersey as the main overall favourites finished together.
Defending champion Chris Froome moved up to second overall, 12sec behind his team-mate.
A six-man breakaway went up the road early on the stage, which took the riders out of Belgium through Luxembourg and into France for the first time this year.
When the peloton's lead dipped under 60sec with a little under 60km of the race remaining, Lotto-Soudal's Thomas de Gendt was part of a three-man group that bridged over.
That sparked a series of attacks out of the break, but when Direct-Energie's Lilian Calmejane was the last to be swallowed up with 10km to go, the battle was on at the front of the peloton.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
TOUR DE FRANCE
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