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."
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.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Sky down to eight after Siutsou crash
Kittel recovering from illness
Explaining the three kilometre rule
Sky's embarrassment of riches
Rogers back on form and backing Wiggins in the Tour
Martin to continue in Tour despite fractured wrist
Liquigas coach tips Sagan for future Grand Tour win
Cancellara's win lifts morale in RadioShack team
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 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 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 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
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