The greats have come out to play in the first four days of the Tour de France: Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish and twice, Peter Sagan. The 22-year-old won today in Boulogne-sur-Mer, a finish suited to him thanks to the steep ramp to the finish line.
“It was very impressive, but he’s been impressive ever since he turned pro in 2010. He’s going from strength to strength,” Sky’s sports director, Sean Yates said. “The way he finished today, it’s not taking the Mick but he’s taken it to another level.”
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Sagan went through a victory salute that proved he had remaining energy in the tank. He crossed himself and then pretended he was Forrest Gump: Run, Forrest, Run.
“We spoke over dinner about the victory and we talked of the Forrest Gump film,” Sagan explained in the press conference. “They told him to run, and he ran. My team-mates told me to win, and I won. Hah! It was just for a laugh.”
Sagan won from February to March this year, including five stages in the Tour of California and four in the Tour of Switzerland, and the points jerseys in both races. His goal is now the green jersey.
“We don’t hide that the dream is for him to win as many stages possible and the green jersey,” Liquigas trainer, Paolo Slongo told Cycling Weekly. “Slowly, he’s getting closer to that dream.”
“He’s keeps surprising us. From the start of the year, we didn’t know where he’d end up,” Liquigas team director, Stefano Zanatta told Cycling Weekly. “If it continues like this, we’ll see him more and more winning stages.”
Sagan leads the green jersey competition with 116 points, 42 points over Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) with 74 points. Mark Cavendish (Sky) has 73 points.
Sky coach, Rod Ellingworth said he was impressed.
“He’s a different ball game, a different character with different ability. He’s nothing like Cav, who’s a sprinter. He’s a little bit more punchier than [Philippe] Gilbert even. He’s going to go on to great things,” Ellingworth told Cycling weekly.
“He always rides well. Great on the bike. You think some of those Ardennes Classics will be ideal for him, more of these Grand Tour stage wins, the green jersey. He’s good at one-week stage races. If he improves his time trialling, he’s going to be good, isn’t he?”
Cancellara won Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the last years. Cavendish collected a San Remo win. They both must also be wondering what is possible for Sagan.
“If I win in the classics, I’ll be happy,” Sagan said. This year, he placed fourth in San Remo, second in Ghent-Wevelgem, fifth in Flanders and third in Amstel Gold. “In the next years, for sure, I want to win some classics, like San Remo. I like Flanders a lot. Amstel is not bad either.”
Sagan, if not already there, is pushing to be a great.
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