Peter Sagan joked that the decision to abort stage 19 of the Tour de France was "like a Christmas gift", given it removed the need to ride the final climb to Tignes. In all seriousness, he felt the right decision had been made, suggesting lives would have been at risk had they continued.
The penultimate mountain stage of the Tour was brought to a halt in extraordinary fashion when a localised storm saw the road between the Col de l'Iseran and the foot of the final climb, Monteé des Tignes, covered in water, ice, and even mud and rocks that had slid from the hillside.
Riders were informed over race radio that the race was being stopped, with the finish line moved to the top of the Iseran. While new yellow jersey Egan Bernal and the rest of the podium contenders were already on the descent, Sagan got wind of the news when he was still climbing.
After making it to the summit, he got into a team car and was driven to the finish in Tignes, where he still had to fulfill his podium and press duties as wearer of the green points classification jersey.
"I think that taking stupid risks is just stupid," Sagan said of the decision. "When you have ice, it's raining hard, and there are rocks and mud on the road, I think, why do we have to risk our lives? I don't know.
"Yesterday the road was blocked after the stage because of thunderstorms, and today it was a strong thunderstorm. They're doing their best. I'm not here to judge anyone or to be police officer. If we are risking our lives for nothing, I think they decided well."
Sagan was taking a back seat as far as the racing was concerned. The Slovakian just has to make it through the Alps in one piece in order to seal a record seventh green jersey in Paris on Sunday.
In that respect, his task was made a little easier, as the 7.4km first-category climb to Tignes at 2089 metres was taken out of the route.
"I tried to do my best on the climbs, and after, 2km from the top of the second-last climb, they told us on the radio that the race was finishing at the top,'" Sagan said.
"I was super happy. It was like a Christmas gift for me."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.