By Gregor Brown
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) appears unbeatable in the Tour de France's points competition even with the race yet to begin. The Slovak is fast and versatile, which allows him to collect points on most stages en route to Paris.
For evidence, one can simply look at Monday's Tour of Switzerland stage to Meiringen. Sagan remained with the GC group over a first category climb and then sprinted out of a four-man group.
"It wasn't a simple sprint - the legs weren't exactly as fresh as they were," Sagan said in a press release. "But it's the ideal preparation for my target this season: the green jersey in the Tour de France."
The Swiss win was Sagan's 11th of the season. Although he has less than Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 12, his wins have come in a myriad of ways. Sagan out-sprinted Cavendish in Tirreno-Adriatico, soloed away in Ghent-Wevelgem and on Monday, battled GC riders.
Sagan debuted in the Tour de France last year, winning three stages on his way to Paris and the green jersey. His versatility gave him the eventual 141-point advantage over André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). He won uphill finishes to Seraing and Boulogne-sur-Mer, where most pure sprinters failed to gain points. And even if he failed to win a bunch gallop, he took top fives, including second in Paris, to stay in the hunt.
A reminder of the point scale:
Flat stages: 45, 35, 30, 26, 22...
Medium mountains stages: 30, 25, 22, 19, 17
Intermediate sprint: 20, 17, 15, 13, 11
Cavendish was somewhat suffocated in Sky, which focused on the GC win with Bradley Wiggins. With Omega Pharma's sprint train this year he may pick up more than the three stage wins. It will be the case of the more the merrier to beat Sagan. In 2011, he safely claimed the green jersey with five stages.
Sagan will come with a more dedicated team. Last year, team Liquigas split itself between Vincenzo Nibali's GC fight and Sagan's race for stages. Nibali made it to the podium in Paris, placing third overall, so it was a win-win situation for the Italian squadra.
Nibali left to ride for Astana in the winter, so the team now known as Cannondale has a clear goal. Moreno Moser will receive some support in the GC, but most of the team's energy is aimed on Sagan's target.
Peter Sagan: Rider profile
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