Young Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) once again was ready to reach out for the win in the bunch sprint at the end of stage 2 of the Tour de France in Tournai, Belgium. One day after his first-ever stage win in the Tour de France, he lost the final kilometer battles and eventually finished sixth. His result allowed him to hold on to the green jersey as his 78 points give him a 15-point margin over Monday's winner Mark Cavendish (Sky).
"I wanted to win, but that's cycling. It was a very nervous race. In the sprint, I won only some points for the green jersey," Sagan said, while gasping for air right after finishing the stage. "Cavendish is strong. Also this sprint is for him... It was a big battle. This is the Tour de France. It's not like another race but it's good."
When analyzing his sprint, Sagan realized that he was too far back even though he was well placed at first. The 22-year-old sat perfectly on the wheel of eventual second place finisher André Greipel, who was following the Lotto-Belisol train. Somehow he was unable to hold that wheel. At 450m to go, he lost it to eventual winner Cavendish before giving up another spot to Matthew Goss (Orica-Greenedge). Eventually he was also passed by Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) to finish in sixth place.
"I think I was behind Goss when the sprint started. Too far and I'm not fast enough for a sprint finish like this. It was too flat, nervous and also, in the sprint you need some luck," Sagan said while expressing the hope that Tuesday's stage to Boulogne-sur-mer would suit him better. The third stage of the Tour de France features four climbs in the last 20km, including 600m uphill toward the finish line.
Later at the team bus, Sagan realized that it wasn't just that the relatively flat finish did not suit him. He needs to be more aggressive to stay in front once up there. "I had to battle for position behind Greipel. I need to be more aggressive to hold my position, like a boxer maybe. It was a good experience."