Bora-Hansgrohe sprinter Peter Sagan shrugged off any sense of disappointment if he fails to win an eighth green points jersey at the Tour de France but warned he would fight for every point available in the intermediate sprints and possible sprint stages, insisting he was “still in the game.”
Sagan has won the green jersey a record seven times. However, he appears far from his best in the 2020 Tour de France sprints and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wears the green jersey, leading Sagan by 45 points as the riders enjoyed the second rest day at the foot of the Alps.
Sagan missed out on 43 points when he was relegated from second place on stage 11 after he shoulder-charged Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in the sprint. He and his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates then went on the attack on stage 14 but Sagan only finished fourth in Lyon, missing out on precious points.
“I’ve already won the green jersey seven times. If I get one more or lose it, nothing changes for me. It’s a matter of numbers,” Sagan said during his rest day video press conference.
“We’re still in the game. There are the last six stages and there are three really hard stages, and then perhaps after there’s another opportunity for a sprint or something. Then we have to survive the time trial and then we’re going to Paris.
“I’m not disappointed. As I always say, every year is different and every race is different. I had my opportunities. I had all the team working for me but I had some bad luck in the finale and that’s what’s missing for me,” the three-time world champion said.
Sagan has not won a race since taking stage 5 of last year’s Tour de France, with some already suggesting he may be past his best and already be thinking more about retirement than success.
He has been consistent in the 2020 Tour de France sprint, finishing fifth in Nice, fifth in Sisteron, fourth in Privas, third in Île-de-Ré and fourth in Lyon, but has often been beaten in the intermediate sprints that offer often vital extra points.
“The Tour de France [first two weeks] wasn’t super good for us but it was OK and we didn’t have any injuries in the team, so we can look forward to the last week,” Sagan argued.
The position of the intermediate sprints in the mountain stages is expected to play a huge role in Sagan’s battle with Bennett for the green jersey.
Sagan is by far the better climber, and so can hope he and his team can make the racing hard early on and distance Bennett in the hope of taking some of the points in the intermediate sprints on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are 20 points awarded to the winner of each intermediate sprint on a sliding scale down to 15th place.
Friday’s stage to Champagnole is hilly, with the intermediate sprint after 117km, making it hard for Bora-Hansgrohe to control the breakaway, but Sagan could try to get into the expected attack to sweep up as many points as possible.
Bennett arguably has the advantage of the final stage to Paris, where 50 points are awarded to the stage winner on the Champs-Elysées. He could win the sprint and so win the green jersey.
Sagan is aware of the points available and the different possible outcomes in Paris, but refused to do the math on the rest day.
“I think everyone else is calculating much more than me. It’s a rest day, I’m resting,” he teased, refusing to reveal his tactics.
“We’ll see what happens in the next few days. For sure, every point is good and we have to do our best, give our maximum. We’ve got six days and then the Tour is over, so we have to go full gas.
“If we have some tactics, I’m not going to reveal it beforehand. That’s why the racing will maybe be interesting, right? Everything is possible," Sagan said. "We have to try our best and I think I’m going to need the help of all the team. For sure, we can do something in the next few days. We’ll see what that is.”
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