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Sagan cautious over defence of Giro d'Italia points jersey

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wearing the cyclamen coloured jersey as points classification leader of the 2021 Giro d'Italia
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wearing the cyclamen coloured jersey as points classification leader of the 2021 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has played down his chances of defending his points jersey lead in the Giro d'Italia although he has promised he will try to maintain it in the race's nine remaining stages.

In the points jersey since he won in Foligno on stage 11, and already with a record number of Tour de France wins in the same classification, expectations surrounding Sagan's chances of taking his first maglia ciclamino are high.

However, after stage 12, where he finished 26 minutes down with a large group of team workers and sprinters but in good spirits, Sagan refused to be over-confident about his chances.

"Nope, it's not so solid as that," the Slovak fired back when one reporter insisted Sagan's defence of the ciclamino "was looking more solid than ever."

"Tomorrow's [Friday's] a sprint stage and I'll do the best I can, but for now all the sprinters are still in contention - Fernando [Gaviria] (UAE Team Emirates) [Davide] Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation), Elia Viviani (Cofidis). Let's see what happens tomorrow, it'll be a lottery."

Sagan currently has an advantage of 17 points over Gaviria and Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation), both with 91 points, but the bunch sprint winner is awarded 50 points in the ciclamino classification meaning it could be easily overturned.

Also on the downside for the Slovak's chances, Sagan's bunch sprint victory in Foligno was taken after his Bora-Hansgrohe team did an impressive job of dropping numerous fast men on a difficult fourth category climb, whereas on Friday, the course is completely flat.

However, Sagan has always been there or thereabouts in the bunch sprints, for all his slightly pessimistic tone. In the other flat stages of the Giro, he's taken a fifth, a third, a fourth and a 14th, the latter when he was blocked against the barriers in Termoli.

Asked whether he was scared of the GC contenders and climbers taking control of the points competition once the race hits the mountains, Sagan chuckled, "Scared? That sounds like a pretty serious word to me.

"No, let's take it on the day by day. First, we'll try to sort out the sprinters and then we'll see."

The last GC rider in the Giro d'Italia to win the points classification outright was Joaquim Rodriguez back in 2012, since when it's been the exclusive property of sprinters. Last year it was taken by France's Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), who is not taking part in the Giro this year.

The points classification may be a battle but for all they are rivals on the road, Sagan also used his points classification post-stage press conference to express his delight that Elia Viviani (Cofidis), a friend of his, had been selected to carry the Italian flag in the Olympic Games.

"That's great, very impressive," he said before adding with another laugh. "Now, let's see who they choose for Slovakia."

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.