With his Tour de France disqualification seemingly forgotten, as he insisted repeatedly before the Tour de Pologne started, Sagan streaked across the finishing line in Krakow comfortably ahead of Caleb Ewan to win the opening stage and claim the leader's jersey. Speed, teamwork and fine placing all helped ensure the world champion was ahead of the field when it mattered, but Sagan also said that luck might have played a part too.
"In the end I was maybe lucky. After three weeks I've come back here in the Tour of Pologne and I've won the first stage," Sagan said. "Maybe I was lucky because it was just 130 kilometres and it was maybe good, I'm very happy."
Sagan is also, as he pointed out, ably backed by a strong Bora-Hansgrohe lineup, who worked hard throughout the stage to ensure that a four-man break never gained more than three and a half minutes, with the last survivor, Maciej Paterski (CCC-Sprandi) reeled in just as the peloton hit the finishing circuit.
"It was perfect, we did our best. I have to thank all my teammates, they did an amazing job and pulled all day in the front, with also Orica-Scott," Sagan pointed out.
The huge numbers of fans chanting his name around much of the final four-kilometre circuit could hardly have gone unnoticed, and Sagan said that the local support was a real morale boost for him.
"It's very nice to be here, to get the very big support from Slovakia, a lot of energy, where we are so close to my country and also the Polish fans are really amazing too," Sagan said afterwards. "There was a lot of positive energy here in the race."
Besieged by a host of Polish television and radio reporters, Sagan batted back a question as to whether he would defend the leader's jersey in the upcoming hillier stages with a distinctly non-committal "day by day," before pointing out to the presence of a Bora-Hansgrohe teammate: "Rafal Majka has some good stages for him too," Sagan said.
Sunday's flattish, 142-kilometre stage from Tarnowskie to Katowice, however, could well end in a bunch sprint and should therefore allow Sagan, who won the Tour de Pologne outright in 2011 on a very similar, time-trial free course, to defend his lead. But whatever happens, taking the opening stage of the Tour of Pologne has already made Sagan's comeback race something of a success.
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