Peter Sagan was hoping to win the Tour de Francestage in Oyonnax as a present for his girlfriend's birthday but yet again he was left disappointed and even frustrated, finishing only ninth in the sprint behind Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol).
Sagan made the select group that formed on the late climbs and the high-speed speed descend but was unable and unwilling to control all the attacks and Gallopin escaped the grasp of the group.
"It was my girlfriend's birthday today, and so I was hoping to win the stage for her today. She still got the flowers from the podium because I pulled on a new green jersey but I'm trying to do something better, to win a stage, and not only keep the green jersey until Paris," he said in the mixed-zone behind the podium.
"Today I got in the break, the decisive group that formed but it was still difficult. Kwiatkowski attacked and so I went after him. When Gallopin attacked I could have gone with him too but I didn't because it's impossible to go after everybody and other riders would have attacked. I was trying to win the stage, I don’t want anymore placings."
Sagan has finished in the top ten on eight different stages so far in this year's Tour de France. Three of those have been second places. He has often thrown caution to the wind and made or gone with late attacks instead of waiting for the sprint but he has been beaten out maneuvered every time.
"Nobody wants to work with me and that makes it very hard (to win). They know me and know that its hard to beat me if they go to the finish with me, they know I'm fast in a sprint," he said, frustrated but intelligent enough to know that tactics and playing off other rider's strength are part of the sport.
"That's cycling," he added. "I know that. Perhaps it's going to be hard for me to win a stage in this Tour."
"I think I did well today to be in the move and up front but it's a very difficult situation for me to be with the other riders. All I can do is keep trying."
Sagan can perhaps find consolation in the green jersey points competition. He scored a further 14 points in the intermediate sprint and the finish sprint on stage 11, pushing his total to 301 points. Bryan Coquard (Europcar) is second at a distant 164 points.