Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) racked up another first of his impressive career by beating Mark Cavendish in the rain-soaked sprint of Tirreno-Adriatico's third stage to Narni Scalo. The Slovakian admitted he had the courage to rub shoulders with the Manxman to defend his position on Andre Greipel's wheel.
Cavendish tried to secure the sweet spot in the lead out, knowing it would be difficult to come past in the narrow finishing straight. He bumped Sagan but the 23 year-old Slovakian didn’t blink, enjoying mixing it with the world's best sprinters.
"It's the first time I've beaten Mark in my career. The conditions were difficult with the rain and the cold, and so I'm happy to have won," he said in the post-race press conference.
"Mark didn't have men at that point, so he tried to get on Greipel's wheel. We were fighting for Greipel's wheel."
Asked what he did to defend the wheel, Sagan said: "I put my hand out to stop him. No, I'm kidding. We rubbed shoulders, but nothing major."
Sagan talked about the sprint as if it had been a walk in the park. But yet again he made winning look easy, completing the work done by his teammates.
"We decided to do the climb hard to tire out the sprinters and I think it worked. Then on the decent Orica lead us down to the finish and I got on Greipel's wheel."
Despite another impressive performance, Sagan refused any idea that he could an overall contender at Tirreno-Adriatico.
"Have they cancelled the (mountain) finish?" he joked, hinting that would be the only way he can win. "I just hope it's good weather, so it'll be a rest day for me…"
"Well see how Moreno Moser goes tomorrow. If he can go with climbers and does well, he could be good for GC too."
Sagan and Moser: the new dynamic duo
Sagan and Moser are the new dynamic duo in Italy, helping each other in races and sharing victories. Moser helped Sagan win the GP di Camaiore and then Moser was given the freedom to attack at Strade Bianche, while Sagan controlled the attacks then took second place.
Their next combined goal is Milano-Sanremo.
"With Moreno we've shown we're strong and that we can ride together and help each other. It makes winning easier. It means everybody is relaxed and happy," Sagan said.
"The team often rides for me but we've also got different tactical options too. Moreno is strong and won Strade Bianche. It always helps if you've got strong riders up there."
"Well see what we can do at Milano-Sanremo. With my lack of experience it's difficult to win Classics but I hope I'm on form so I can try to steal one...
"If it's not Milano-Sanremo, then maybe Ghent-Wevelgem or Flanders. If not then maybe Amstel… I'll try and be up there and see if I can win or not."