Sagan bounces back from error to win in Longwy

World champion says there are 'more important things in life' than the green jersey

On his day, it seems that nothing can beat Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Even lady luck had a go on stage 3 of the Tour de France and found herself soundly beaten by the World Champion as he bounced back from two potentially costly errors to edge out Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) in a tense finale in Longwy.

The Slovakian was sitting comfortably on the front of the pack as the diminished peloton approached the line. The script that almost every pundit and fan had predicted was playing out as expected. It was almost shredded when a rare bike handling error saw him accidentally unclip his foot just as he was about to launch his sprint. There was no panic as he calmly found his pedal again and clipped back in and still had the speed to keep a fast-closing Matthews behind him.

He admitted later that he had almost ruined his chances by going too early to chase down Richie Porte (BMC Racing), who had attacked inside the final kilometre.

"I was in the front with some of the best climbers. Richie Porte and Rafa were in the front, and Alberto Contador was there too," Sagan said after the stage. "I thought when Richie Porte attacked I thought that everyone would chase him. It was a pretty hard final and then after I don't really remember much.

"My shoe came out of my pedal and I was lucky in a bad moment that I was able to find my pedal and I could start my sprint. The finish line was still far away and after I won, it was a nice feeling."

Sagan's victory moves him from 15th in the points competition to third, just 16 points behind the leader Marcel Kittel. Like it was at just over two hundred metres to go in Longwy, it appears that everything is going to plan for Sagan so far. Sagan, as has become apparent over the years, does not like to talk much about the future, and dismisses any talk of equalling Erik Zabel's record of six green jerseys.

"It's not important," he said when asked about it. "We will see day by day. What changes in the world if I win the green jersey or not? Nothing. There are more important things in life."

Known for his elaborate victory celebrations and fashion, Sagan tries not to take himself and life too seriously. Having fun, as he's said over the years, is what keeps him going and provided he can continue to do so then he has not yet got bored of winning.

"I haven't won everything, even though almost everything," said Sagan. "There are still a lot of races that I haven't won. What is my motivation? Maybe the stripes on me. I tried to have fun cycling and not always be serious, and maybe that is the way to find some motivation."

The coming sprint stages should be motivation enough and, while he says winning the green jersey is not important, having a sniff of the classification lead will be a tantalising carrot just ahead of him.

 

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