Soren Kragh Andersen took his second stage win of the Tour de France on stage 19 as Sam Bennett moved a huge step closer to winning the points classification ahead of Peter Sagan.
Team Sunweb’s Kragh Andersen attacked from a breakaway with 15km of the 166.5km stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole remaining and quickly distanced his fellow escapees to solo his way home.
Bennett came home eighth and stretched his lead to 55 points over Sagan in the battle for the green jersey, which he now looks near certain to win if he makes it to the finish in Paris on Sunday without incident.
Bennett is looking to become the first Irishman to win any classification in the Tour since Sean Kelly took green for the fourth and final time in 1989, and to end Sagan’s stranglehold on a classification he was won a record seven times since 2012.
“It’s growing day by day but it’s still not finished,” Bennett said of his advantage.
“Today was the most dangerous day, it was a critical day. I want to thank the team for the amazing job they did, and I think I even out-performed myself. I didn’t expect to be able to ride like that.”
Primoz Roglic retained the yellow jersey and his 57-second advantage over fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar as the peloton rolled in more than six minutes later, having given up the chase on the breakaway with around 20km to go.
The battle for yellow will now be settled in Saturday’s time trial on La Planche des Belles Filles, but Friday was about the fight for green as Sagan looked to capitalise on an opportunity to dent Bennett’s advantage.
But the former world champion could not make an impression as Bennett marked him all the way and pipped him in both the intermediate sprint and at the finish line.
💚 @Sammmy_Be and @petosagan battled it out all the way to the finish line on Stage 19 of #TDF2020, with the Irishman narrowly edging the Slovak star despite Sagan hitting a slightly higher top speed#TDFdata@LeTourpic.twitter.com/7VQzq4cGSz
— letourdata (@letourdata) September 18, 2020
The race broke up after the intermediate sprint, just inside the final 50km.
The Ineos Grenadiers’ Luke Rowe, riding his sixth Tour but the first that will not end with the yellow jersey within his team, joined a break that included Bennett and Sagan alongside a powerful group of riders including Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin.
The peloton soon gave up the chase and left the group to contest stage honours, but they were not content to roll in together as a number of attacks came before Kragh Andersen broke off the front to ride home solo.
“For the last kilometre I was screaming, ‘Can you confirm one minute?’ because I didn’t believe it,” Kragh Andersen said of the lead he built.
“Two wins in the same Tour, I’m speechless. I could have never dreamed something better… this is memories for the rest of my life. I’m just super happy.”