McEwen: Tour de France course made Sagan unbeatable in green

Three-time green jersey winner backs Sagan for Champs Élysées victory

After Peter Sagan sailed to another green jersey at the 2014 Tour de France, the race organisers ASO introduced a new points system to give the sprinters a fighting chance of beating the Slovakian. Try as they might, they couldn’t stop the Slovakian from romping to his fourth consecutive points classification victory, bringing him up to equal second with Sean Kelly in the overall standings. Three-time stage winner André Greipel put up a good fight early on but once the race moved into the mountains the German was no match for Sagan.

Sagan will roll into Paris with an insurmountable 104 point advantage over Greipel. “On this year’s Tour course it made Sagan basically impossible to beat. He still had to perform; he was there in every single big sprint in the first two or three. Even when Cav or Greipel were winning, Sagan was there in second,” three-time green jersey winner Robbie McEwen told Cyclingnews.

The points classification is often known as one for the sprinters but the challenge has always really been about consistency and Sagan has been just that. He’s notched up a record five second places, over varying terrain. He spent four days in the break throughout the mountains to ensure that when the final sprint stage loomed up he was already out of sight. The 25-year-old has pulled out some of his most impressive rides of the Tour, including the bum-clenching descent down the Col de Manse, but the one thing missing off his scorecard is a victory.

After blowing into the Tour like a whirlwind in 2012, Sagan has failed to take a victory in his last two participations. “He’s great and I love watching him and I really hope that he can win a stage to give the green a little bit of shine,” said McEwen, who has been at the Tour de France with Australian broadcaster SBS and has been interviewing Sagan in the post-podium mixed zone for the last few weeks. ”I can’t help after I’ve interviewed him in the mix zone having a couple of words with him. I said the other day, take it easy and think of Paris. It frustrates me to see him get beaten and wasting energy too often.

“It’s got to be very frustrating for him but maybe some days instead of going in those breakaways he might have been better saving some energy, sitting back and maybe concentrating on few stages. I think he recovers very well but every time he goes he’s a little less the next day, still super strong but he’s a little bit less. He’s just chipping away at his own form. If he didn’t do that then he’d probably have more chance of winning a stage.”

One last opportunity remains for Sagan to get the Tour monkey off his back and take that elusive stage win. As a pan-flat day it’s not one that outright suits him but McEwen admits that it’s more complicated than that. “I won my first Tour stage on my last day of the Tour. I’d be really happy for him if he can win,” McEwen said. “On speed, you’d say Greipel but I think it’s going to be about the one who is the freshest after the mountains and that could well be Sagan because it’s been such a brutal four days. It’s about who can recover and get it right on the day.”

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