Liquigas-Cannondale is on double duty at the Tour de France to keep Peter Sagan in the green jersey. The Italian team came to the race with the plan to help him win a stage and maybe go for green, and to win the overall with Vincenzo Nibali.
Sagan crashed with 2.5 kilometres remaining yesterday. He came away with only scrapes, but lost a chance to sprint for valuable green jersey points. He currently leads with 155 points, 18 points over Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) in second at 137 points.
Sicilian Vincenzo Nibali won the Vuelta a España in 2010 and built this season around the Tour de France. He skipped the Giro d'Italia to have a chance to win, only he must wait until this weekend's mountains to establish himself and have the team's full attention. For now, the focus is on Sagan, who won stages one and three, and holds one of cycling's prized jerseys.
"He's gaining more and more faith from the team," team director, Stefano Zanatta told Cycling Weekly. "You saw [Ivan] Basso give him a hand [on stage three]. He's a talent. If he continues like this he'll win even more stages."
Nibali sits eighth overall at only 18 seconds back from leader Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan). He rode an impressive time trial on the first day in Liège, going faster than many of his rivals and only one second slower than defending champion, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
He'll demand more from the team. However, he's happy to wait.
"We know that he's [Sagan - ed.] very strong on those types of finishes. He's already showed many times to be very strong on similar finishes [in other races]," Nibali told Cycling Weekly.
"It definitely doesn't take away any energy [from the team] because Peter has to only do his sprints. There's only one person at the front to help him and he also helps me being up at the front. There's no problem."
Daniel Oss helped Sagan collect many of his wins this year. The team dedicates him to look after Sagan in the finishes, like today's leg to Metz, the other six cyclists protect Nibali. It's a similar situation with Bernhard Eisel looking after Mark Cavendish at Sky.
"There are these sprint finishes, but Peter knows there are sprinters who are stronger," Zanatta continued. "He knows that we also have to protect Vincenzo to be ready for the mountains on Saturday and Sunday, and the time trial on Monday."
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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever
Leaked contract shows Manuela Fundación tried to buy Mitchelton-Scott for €7 million
The failed takeover of the Australian squad, now called Team BikeExchange, caused confusion in June last year
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Paul James has paid homage to the sprinter's comeback with a tattoo of the Tour de France green jersey winner
By Jonny Long •