• Peter Sagan eyes off the green jersey worn by Andre Greipel at the start of Stage 11, after which Sagan claimed the jersey back (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Peter Sagan insisted his first priority remains to support team-mate and Tinkoff-Saxo leader Alberto Contador, despite reclaiming the green jersey from Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) after Stage 11 of the Tour de France.
By
Cycling Central

16 Jul 2015 - 7:42 AM  UPDATED 16 Jul 2015 - 8:04 AM

The battle for the points classification has been hot throughout the first half of the Tour, with Sagan and Greipel swapping the shirt regularly. Sagan now has a 17-point buffer as he pursues his fourth straight victory in the competition.

His team-mate, Contador, finished in the main group after the 167km Stage 11, which took the riders from Pau to Cauterets and over the iconic Col du Tourmalet climb.

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Tinkoff-Saxo got the stage win it needed when Rafal Majka broke away for a solo on win the mountainous Stage 11 to Vallée de Saint-Savin at the Tour de France.

The Spaniard remained sixth in the overall standings, 4min 04sec behind race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), a gap the Briton pushed out with his powerful Stage 10 victory.

But Sagan said Contador’s campaign was not yet over, and the stage victory for Rafael Majka, also of Tinkoff-Saxo, combined with his own reclamation of green, would certainly help team morale.

“I’m very happy for this victory Rafa did for the team,” Sagan said. “Now we’ll have better morale in the team and we’ll see day by day what we can do. This Tour de France is still on.

“We have just one leader and that’s it. Alberto is still in the game I think and we have to think about him.”

 

Of his own race, Sagan admitted it had been a challenging day, particularly with the loss of Daniele Bennati, who withdrew after a crash.

“It was hard for me, for Rafa maybe not,” the 25-year-old Slovakian said with a smile. “From the start I was trying to go in the breakaway, but all the other sprinters were on my wheel and they didn’t want me to go.

“We had a small climb, maybe two kilometres to the (intermediate) sprint, and we did full gas there. The breakaway wanted to, but I did the sprint. Etixx-QuickStep rider but (Daniel) Trentin beat me, and I took 10 points.

“I lose a lot of energy in the first part of the race, so after I come to the finish in the grupetto it was OK for me. A bit odd but it was OK.”

Sagan made good on a promise he'd made to himself on Twitter the prvious day.

Contador had no complaints after managing to hang on to his position in the race after a challenging Stage 10.

“Peter was able to sprint perfectly and took the green jersey. Rafal grabbed very well the opportunity, caught the breakaway the moment one needed fresh legs and then crowned it with the stage win,” Contador said.

“It could have been a perfect day if it weren't for the crash of Daniele Bennati and his withdrawal from the race. It's an important loss to the team. He was a fundamental part of our squad in the first half of the Tour and if we didn't have him, I would be a near catastrophe. I hope he doesn't have anything serious.”

Contador said he felt a bit better than yesterday and admitted he held back on Stage 11 to preserve some energy.

Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Steven de Jongh hailed a very positive day for his team, despite the loss of Bennati.

“Today, our race took a big turn with Rafal winning the stage and Peter back in green compared to the last few days, where it has been tough. I’m so proud of the guys and their fighting spirit,” he said.

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