Sagan wins Tour de France fifth stage; Alaphilippe retains lead

Sagan won the 175.5km stage from Saint-Die-des-Vosges in a sprint finish

Sagan won the 175.5km stage from Saint-Die-des-Vosges in a sprint finish

Defending Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) responded to predictions that he might struggle on the steep slopes of the La Planche des Belles Filles with a show of force and pride, chasing and passing late solo attacker Julian Alaphilippe to finish first among the overall contenders.

Since the Planche des Belles Filles featured for the first time on the Tour in 2012, the rider in yellow after that stage went on to win the race - Bradley Wiggins in 2012, Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 and Chris Froome in 2017.

"I took his (Kristoff's) wheel and thought it was going to be close, but as you saw, it wasn't", said a relaxed looking Sagan.

Britain's Thomas had an uneventful day, finishing safely in the pack with his co-leader at Ineos, Colombia's Egan Bernal, British compatriot Adam Yates and the other contenders for the general classification. "It was a decent day in the end". "I'll just go and try to ride the best I can and see where I'm at on top". I was starting to blow though. "This feeling is insane".

Deceuninck-Quick Step's Alaphilippe did not give up the jersey without a fight. I was feeling good but I was unsure about things.

France's Thibaut Pinot, who had been tagged as the pre-stage favourite on an ascent situated 15km from his home town, reacted swiftly in the last 200 metres on asphalt to limit the damage to a two-second loss.

"I've got the green jersey but I haven't got a stage win yet, I'll play it day by day - it's a long way to Paris", said the Slovak star after pulling on the green jersey again.

"I suffered a bit in the climbs".

The day also signalled the end of Romain Bardet's hopes after the Frenchman, twice a podium finisher on the Tour, lost over a minute and now lags more than two minutes behind Thomas.

Alaphilippe, who has worn yellow since his solo win on stage three to Epernay, crossed the line in 10th place, to remain in the overall lead. The likes of Steven Kruijswijk, Rigoberto Uran, Jakob Fuglsang and Yates lurk, no more than 35 seconds back, but then more serious gaps open up.