While Greipel (Lotto Soudal) took the lead in the points competition, for the best sprinter, by a slim three points leading into the Pyrenees, Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) reclaimed the green leaders’ jersey for Stages 11 and 12.
The 25-year-old Sagan held a two point margin over Greipel at the beginning of last night’s 13th Stage to Rodez. Greipel turned this deficit around winning nine points in the intermediate sprint, putting him in the virtual lead.
While Greipel excels in the flatter sprints, Sagan has carved out an advantage in the points competition due to his ability to out-climb his German competitor. This has given the Slovak the opportunity for bigger points on the finish line.
The Stage 13 course profile suited Sagan once again, despite Greipel's powerful sprint partway through. With a 570m vertical ascent at the end of the stage, Sagan claimed a second place finish on the line. In doing so, he has held onto the green jersey for another day, this time with a 24 point margin.
The result is Sagan’s fourth second-placed finish of this year’s Tour de France. Unable to overtake stage winner, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) in the final, critical metres, Sagan blamed himself for being unable to go one better.
“It was a very hard finish and I waited too long as I started a bit down but then I came to the wheel of Greg and I stayed there. I should have continued and in the final metres I didn’t have the power,” said Sagan.
“I took points for the green jersey but I really want to win a stage for the team, my team-mates and myself,” he said.
His team were less critical, putting his finish into perspective on a day where Sagan worked hard to protect team leader, Alberto Contador in temperatures that approached 40 degrees Celcius.
“Of course it’s frustrating that we didn’t win but we also spent energy in the intermediate sprint,” said Contador, who sits in sixth place on the general classification. “Peter cannot do more than he’s already doing, he is incredible and he also works hard for me.”
“In these stages it’s important that the team works well. Today it was a good day for us. In the finale, the team did a good job.
“Peter stayed near the front and had to ride exposed to the wind. Still, he was so close at the finish line. Maybe he didn’t win but he took some points.
"He has been fighting from the start of the Tour and I hope, or better said I’m sure, the well-deserved victory will come another day.” – Alberto Contador.
Greipel also appeared to suffer in the heat. His comments on Twitter over the last two days noting his concern with the weather conditions rather than focusing on the battle for green. He finished Stage 13 in 161st position, 12min 10sec behind Sagan.
With three more transition stages before the Tour hits the Alps, the battle is sure to remain as tight as the jersey itself.