Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished second behind Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) in the crash-affected Tirreno-Adriatico sprint in Cascina but found consolation for yet another placing by moving up to second overall in the same time as stage 1 time trial winner Adriano Malori (Movistar).
He could take the race lead at the end of Friday’s third stage to Arezzo if he finishes in the top three and collects one of the 10, 6 or 4-second time bonuses.
Sagan has racked up 10 top-10 placing so far this season, including three second places, but he has yet to win a race. He does not seem to be feeling the pressure to land his first victory for Tinkoff-Saxo but the Russian team would no doubt let out a collective sigh of relief and celebrate if the Slovakian prodigy finally delivered in Arezzo.
Sagan won on the uphill finish in the ancient Tuscan town centre in the 2014 edition of Tirreno-Adriatico, giving a master class in sprinting by charging clear of Michal Kwiatkowski, Simon Clarke and Philippe Gilbert. It was his second win of 2014 and confirmed he was on form for the Classics. He is hoping for a similar sign this year.
“Unfortunately, I finished second in the sprint but I feel my form is getting better. I think my stage could come tomorrow,” he said after pulling on the best young rider’s white jersey, which he will wear during Friday’s stage.
“Second is always better than third or fourth… I went for it but then the guy who won (Debusschere) moved across slightly and we touched wheels and I stopped pedalling. I went again but it was a crazy sprint. Today, it was very important to stay out of trouble and we had to be very attentive to avoid crashes and injuries. I will go into the third stage standing second overall and we will see what happens.”
Sagan will have special support from teammate Daniele Bennati, who comes from Arezzo and knows every inch of the finishing circuit that the riders cover five times during the 213km stage.