Sagan close to falling yesterday, glad to take points at the finish
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sagan close to falling yesterday, glad to take points at the finish

by Shane Stokes at 6:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Cannondale rider maintains strong lead in green jersey competition

Peter SaganStarting yesterday’s stage with a 93 point advantage in the battle for the Maillot Vert, Peter Sagan knew that he was looking very good for a second green jersey in Paris, providing he stayed out of trouble.

His buffer over second-placed Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and his 106 point gap over Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step) put him in a very commanding position, and even if Greipel took a point off him in the day’s intermediate sprint, that was of little significance.

However things could have been much more serious at the end of the stage, when a clash between Cavendish and Marcel Kittel’s lead-out man Tom Veelers saw the Argos Shimano rider hit the deck hard. Sagan was behind the duo and had to veer sharply to his right in order to avoid crashing.

He was able to continue and, despite that lack of momentum, took fourth. That saw him give up nine points to Greipel and four to Cavendish, but he would have lost 35 and 30 respectively to them had he gone down.

“I chose to sprint behind Mark [Cavendish], but it was slow to start. I was very scared when he got close to a rider from Argos [Tom Veelers] who fell,” he said afterwards. “I’m really relieved to have avoided this crash. It was not at all the kind of finale for stage that I like, but in the fight for the green jersey, I can not let go.”

Sagan remains in the driving seat as regards the competition. He has 269 points, 83 more than Greipel and 103 more than Cavendish. Marcel Kittel, who won yesterday’s stage, is 137 back and surely out of the hunt for the final green jersey.

It means that the Slovakian still looks very good for the final win in Paris. “I had to do everything not to lose as many points as possible. I lost a little today but not much,” said Sagan. “I think it's still a good advantage for me. It is normal that I give a few points in a stage like this.

“I do not respond to any particular opponent and it's impossible to know if my most dangerous rival is Greipel or Cavendish or another. A fall could change everything.”

After today’s time trial, two similarly flat stages follow. Sagan may give up a few more points to Greipel and Cavendish, who can be quicker than him on such courses, but has a real chance to take a bundle of points on Saturday.

The stage is far lumpier and if his Cannondale team can put the hammer down as they did on stage seven to Albi, Sagan could potentially put his rivals under real pressure.

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