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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

UAE Team Emirates sprinter Kristoff claims another top-five finish at Tour de France

Sagan wins the stage after a reduced sprint following a crash less than 2km from the finish line

Alexander Kristoff finished fifth in the second stage of the Tour de France. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates 
Alexander Kristoff finished fifth in the second stage of the Tour de France. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates 

UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff produced his second top-five finish in as many Tour de France stages on Sunday after avoiding a late crash in the peloton.

Kristoff, 31, followed up his fourth place on Saturday's opening stage with fifth on Stage 2 as world champion Peter Sagan of Bora Hansgrohe claimed the yellow jersey in a reduced sprint finish.

Overnight leader Fernando Gaviria came down in a mass high speed crash just 1.3-kilometres from the line, which Sagan and around 15 other riders, including Kristoff, avoided to set up a frantic finish.

German Marcel Kittel, who has 14 Tour stage wins under his belt, suffered a puncture just under 8km from the line and could not make it back to the front of the bunch in time.

The Slovakian edged a field of nine lined up for the final reckoning but had to deal with French specialist Arnaud Demarre and Italian Sonny Colbrelli, who came within a hair's breadth of the win with a daring last second wheel push to come second.

Germany's Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal claimed fourth, with Kristoff narrowly behind.

“I came from a little too far back, I knew I had to move up but I didn’t really have the legs to do it," Kristoff said. "I did my best and if I was stronger I could have fought with the best, but I lack the legs at the moment to fight amongst the first three. I hope my legs become stronger later on in the tour.”

In the general classification, champion Chris Froome avoided a repeat of his first stage tumble, the Team Sky leader staying out of trouble as he goes in pursuit of a record-equalling fifth Tour title.

But another Briton, Adam Yates, was delayed by a fall and two of his Mitchelton Scott teammates were both also involved in separate falls.

However, the day belonged to Sagan, who was was thrown out of the race last year after being judged culpable of a fall that ended fellow sprinter Mark Cavendish's Tour.

"It's a great start for the fans," Sagan said. "Fernando won yesterday and now I'm the one with the yellow jersey. It's been exciting. I could see it was going to be a good year."

Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay of Trek-Segafredo became the first rider to abandon the race, suffering with abdominal pain.

After the first two stages were catered to sprinters, Monday's third stage will be a 35km Team Time Trial as each team aims to get their general classification bids up and running.