Sagan… The name has become a byword for ‘sensational’ at this year’s Tour de France as the 22-year-old Slovak took yet another stage win to make it a triple treat in 2012. The Liquigas-Cannondale rider simply out-powered André Greipel and Matthew Goss to the line in Metz, despite the best efforts of the Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge teams respectively.
"Another win and I called this one ‘The Hulk'," said Peter Sagan, regarding his victory salute in Metz. "I'm very happy when I can win a stage like today. Yesterday I was unlucky with the crash but also content that nothing was broken and that I didn't have any injuries.
"This is already more than I ever expected. It's surprised me, too. I wanted to do well but I need to say that this is only the start of the Tour de France and tomorrow is when the race really begins because it's the climbs and I think that after two weeks, by the start of the third week, it's going to be really hard.
"I want the green jersey and I think I can hold on to it all the way to Paris."
With a properly flat parcours and on the eve of a foray into the mountains most would ensure a stage without high drama at this year’s Tour but you’d be wrong as the day was again characterized by crashes and calamity. Runner-up Greipel was involved in two crashes, but still figured in the finale.
"I crashed at 35km and then again at the mountain ranking," Greipel told Radsport-News.com. "I didn't want to sprint, but my teammates talked me into it. It was unbelievably painful." The German sprinter is believed to have dislocated his left shoulder.
For some of the Tour’s big general classification contenders, the day was defined by a massive crash just 25km from home that saw the likes of Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal (who lost more than 13 minutes), Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek) and Rabobank’s Robert Gesink forego a significant swathe of time; tomorrow’s hills will prove that much harder after the accident as four riders were forced to abandon due to the injuries they suffered.
Consequently, the overall standings took on a different complexion by day’s end, with Hesjedal gone from the top 10 to leave Garmin-Sharp’s hopes in shreds, along with Edvald Boasson Hagen, who found himself caught in the day’s big crash. Radioshack-Nissan’s Fabian Cancellara remains in yellow – he’ll celebrate a week in the jersey tomorrow – whilst his teammate Maxime Monfort slips into the first ten. He’ll be one to watch in the next week.
A tranquil day… Who are we kidding?
With the mountains beckoning and yesterday’s finish line palpitations fresh in their minds, the men working for the Tour’s sprinters kept the day’s break on a short leash. Experienced stager David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) attacked early in the day and was joined by Davide Malacarne (Europcar), Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) to form the day’s escaping quartet after about 10km.
The break was allowed a maximum advantage nudging seven minutes before it was time to start pegging back the plucky escapees. The flat parcours lent itself to doing so with ease and the sprinters’ teams could pick and choose how much and when the time would be erased from the break.
There was a crash about 50km into the stage as double stage winner Greipel, his Lotto-Belisol teammate Francis de Greefe, Movistar duo José Ivan Gutierrez and Alejandro Valverde and Gesink and Vacansoleil-DCM pair Lieuwe Westra and Kris Boeckmans all touched down.
With much toil from several of his Lotto-Belisol teammates, Greipel could be seen taking a tow back to the peloton – the opportunity for further stage win glory driving the German and his lieutenants on as the pace increased at the front of the bunch.
Another day of toil for the medical staff
This year’s crash-fest continued 25km from the finish, the road resembling a bike swap meet as wheels, bikes, riders and mechanics cluttered the road whilst Orica-GreenEdge continued at tempo on the front in pursuit of a stage win for Goss. Bad news for Hesjedal, the Giro d’Italia champion caught in the fracas, as was Schleck, Lampre’s Michele Scarponi and AG2R-La Mondiale rider Jean-Christophe Peraud, who had already been held up earlier in the day.
With his BMC Racing teammates around him, fellow general classification contender Cadel Evans remained protected at the head of proceedings, however, the chase of the break taking on an Australian flavour with the reigning champion and his compatriots filling the front seats of the pursuit car.
The story would be different for Garmin-Sharp, however, with the likes of Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde and Daniel Martin eventually finishing more than 13 minutes after Sagan had crossed the line, with teammate Johan Vansummeren a further three minutes behind.
Before that point, and with the peloton effectively split in half with just 20km remaining in the stage, the break was in the crosshairs of Orica-GreenEdge. Behind, the battered and bruised received attention, medical or otherwise. With 15km remaining there was 2:30 separating the two segments of the field, as Robert Gesink noticeably struggled – a frustratingly familiar story for the first week of the Tour for the Dutchman.
Flying run to the finish
The 10km banner saw the break holding onto a 14-second lead, with Goss increasingly looking the favourite to take line honours given that Greipel and Cavendish had suffered mishaps throughout the day. The latter had been slowed by the crash and wouldn’t figure in the finale at all. Behind them, the group containing Schleck continued to claw back time on the front group, the band of chasers resembling a casualty ward… And their faces spoke volumes for the pain they were enduring.
The final three kilometres saw Zabriskie kick away from his three companions, who were caught by a Lotto-led peloton just 500m later. Grimacing with pain, the veteran called upon the superhero strength of Captain America to stay away but with 1,300m remaining it was the end of Zabriskie’s game.
Soon after the catch was made a long sprint ensued, with Greg Henderson leading out Greipel for what seemed like an eternity (in sprinting terms) but as Peter Sagan’s high cadence kick reached full pitch, the German could only shake his head as he rode to a runner-up position ahead of Goss, who had again valiantly laid everything on the line in pursuit of a stage win.
|1||Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale||4:37:00|
|2||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||0:00:04|
|11||Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Roy Curvers (Ned) Argos - Shimano||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Julien Simon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 40 - Cell 2|
|42||Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 46 - Cell 2|
|48||Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat||Row 47 - Cell 2|
|49||Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|53||Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|58||Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 59 - Cell 2|
|61||Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 60 - Cell 2|
|62||Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:15|
|63||Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD||0:00:16|
|64||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team||0:00:21|
|65||Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||0:00:32|
|66||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|68||Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar||Row 67 - Cell 2|
|69||Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun||Row 68 - Cell 2|
|70||Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi||Row 69 - Cell 2|
|71||Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||0:00:55|
|72||David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Sharp||Row 71 - Cell 2|
|73||Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol Team||0:00:57|
|74||Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team||0:01:10|
|75||Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol Team||0:01:20|
|76||Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||0:01:22|
|77||Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 76 - Cell 2|
|78||Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne||0:00:04|
|79||Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne||0:01:39|
|80||Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:02:09|
|81||Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team||Row 80 - Cell 2|
|82||Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|83||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 82 - Cell 2|
|84||Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||Row 83 - Cell 2|
|85||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 84 - Cell 2|
|86||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat||Row 85 - Cell 2|
|87||Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos - Shimano||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|88||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 87 - Cell 2|
|89||Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat||Row 88 - Cell 2|
|90||Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|91||Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||Row 90 - Cell 2|
|92||Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat||Row 91 - Cell 2|
|93||Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 92 - Cell 2|
|94||Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|95||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|96||Nick Nuyens (Bel) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank||Row 95 - Cell 2|
|97||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling||Row 96 - Cell 2|
|98||Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 97 - Cell 2|
|99||Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|100||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 99 - Cell 2|
|101||Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 100 - Cell 2|
|102||Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre - ISD||Row 101 - Cell 2|
|103||Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||Row 102 - Cell 2|
|104||Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team||Row 103 - Cell 2|