His victory once again came down to a very close finish, with the winner settled via a finish-line photo. German Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) put in an impressive sprint to very nearly deny the Slovakian the stage win, but ultimately had to settle for second.
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Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott) came home for third after pre-stage sprint favourites Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) found themselves out of the running.
Sagan now takes the early race lead after his stage one win, just as he did in last week’s Tour of Poland.
After the start in Breda, an escape group assembled very quickly, comprising Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Elmar Reinders (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij)and British rider Mark McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
The quartet were only allowed a couple of minutes gap given the flat route and interest from the sprinters’ teams. With 50km to go, the margin was a minute and a half, and they were left dangling out the front of the bunch into the final 10km with less than half a minute.
Several teams had started to assemble their sprint trains heading into the relatively narrow, tree-lined roads towards the finish in Venray with 5km to go.
Orica-Scott, Lotto-Soudal, LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sunweb and Trek-Segafredo had the largest number of riders at the front when the break was finally caught just before the 3km-to-go marker. Quick-Step Floors looked to be slightly disorganised at this point, with Kittel sat in the middle of the pack.
After a roundabout with 1km to go, the peloton suddenly became strung out with Lotto-Soudal driving the pace. The final roundabout did more damage to the order of the peloton, fragmenting it further.
Sagan opened up his sprint early to capitalise on the disorganisation with Bauhaus chasing him furiously. Although Bauhaus was accelerating faster than Sagan into the final 100 metres, it was Sagan’s superior lunge to the line that saw him win by less than a tyre’s width in the photo finish.
De Vreese scooped up intermediate sprint bonus seconds from the break to position himself in second place in the general classification at one second behind Sagan, with Bauhaus in third at four seconds.
Sagan said after the stage that he wasn’t sure he had won it. “I was very lucky in the finish, because I was certain that I’d been passed on the line, but I took the win purely because I threw my bike at the last second,” he said. “I didn’t even know I’d won until five minutes later.”
The BinckBank Tour – formerly known as the Eneco Tour – continues on Tuesday with a short 9km individual time trial around Voorburg. The short distance is not one that favours time trial specialists outright, and Sagan could use his top-end speed to post a good result and maintain his overall lead.
“I’m going to keep going and fighting at the race,” said Sagan. “Tomorrow is a big day for everyone with a 9km time trial – it’ll be tough and we want to make the most of it for Bora-Hansgrohe. It’s a good day for [team-mate] Maciej Bodnar, and I’ll try not to lose time myself.”
The race concludes on Sunday, August 13.
BinckBank Tour 2017, stage one: Breda to Venray
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-50-09
2. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Terk-Segafredo
6. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
8. Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
10. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, all same time
General classification after stage one
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-49-59
2. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana, at 1 sec
3. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb, at 4 secs
4. Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse-Loterij, at 5 secs
5. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott, at 6 secs
6. Mark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 6 secs
7. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 10 secs
8. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Terk-Segafredo, at 10 secs
9. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 10 secs
10. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac, at 10 secs