The bunch sprints at the 100th Tour de France will be more colorful than usual, as many of the race's top sprinters have brought home their national road race championships.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) all earned their new titles today.
It was Greipel's first victory in the German championships, and he wrote afterward in his blog that he was "happy and proud I will be wearing the jersey with the black-red-gold stripes on my body at the start of the Tour de France. This is something very special!"
By beating MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), Greipel said it showed that his perparation has gone well, "and I am looking forward to a hopefully exciting duel with my competitors."
Even Sagan, who won his title for the third time, was excited to win again in Slovakia. "I'm really proud to be the national champion. Fans in Slovakia are really warm with me and to take a win in front of them is a way to say thanks.
"Today I finished in the best way my road to the Tour de France. My sensations are good, better than at the Tour de Suisse, and the form is how I wanted. I had no chance to test myself in bunch sprit, as will happen in France, but for sure I know I'll be stronger on the climbs. I'll try to exploit this advantage for the challenge for the green jersey with Cavendish, Greipel and the other contenders," Sagan said.
Cavendish also avoided a bunch sprint in winning his British national championship in Glasgow today. He escaped with Sky's Ian Stannard and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), and then powered away in the finale to take his first road national championship.
"I'm patriotic, I'm proud to be British and I'm proud to wear the jersey that represents my country," he told British Cycling.
"My form is good, I'm motivated at the moment because the Tour is coming up. It's been unexpected that I'd win here, I was here more to get the last hit out for the Tour and to see the parcours for the Commonwealth Games. Normally with so many Team Sky riders it's going to be difficult to win here, so I wasn't really expecting to win it, but we had a good group away after 20km, rode well together and I'm happy.
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