Tour de France 2019: Peter Sagan
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Zabel had claimed the green jersey six times but was surpassed by Sagan on Sunday as the Slovakian claimed his seventh with 316 points, some 68 ahead of Caleb Ewan.
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The German says he is "honoured" to lose his record to Sagan, hailing him as the "best all-rounder" in the last 10 years in the sport.
"Honestly, there’s nothing I can do about this situation and, in any case, I can’t imagine a better new record holder than Peter Sagan," Zabel told Cyclingnews.
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"If you look back at the last decade of pro cycling, I think Peter has been the best all-rounder. So losing a record to him... it’s not so painful to be second behind him; it’s more an honour."
Sagan has won the green jersey in seven of the last eight years, the only exception being in 2017, when he was disqualified from the Tour.
Day 5, Sheffield