Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tour de France: Life a box of chocolates for irrepressible debutant Sagan

Gerard Cromwell

Slovakian all-rounder Peter Sagan made it look easy and even took the time to pay tribute to his favourite movie character Forrest Gump as he made a running motion across the finish line in Boulogne-sur Mer, having won his second Tour de France stage in three days.

The 22-year-old Sagan, making his debut at the Tour, easily outsprinted Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma Quickstep) on the steep climb to the finish after a crash-filled stage.

"It was a dangerous stage. The group was nervous.

"Everyone wanted to be up front and there were a lot of crashes," Sagan said after overall Tour contender Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky was held up in an incident with about 200m to go, but lost no time in his quest to become the first British rider to win the Tour.

The 3km rule prevented Wiggins, and several other contenders for the yellow jersey, from losing time on Cancellara after they were delayed by the crash.

Wiggins remains seven seconds behind the Swiss, but his hopes of taking the overall prize suffered a blow when his Team Sky squad were reduced to eight as Kanstantsin Siutsou crashed out with a broken left leg.

Nicolas Roche moved up four places to 20th overall, 25 seconds behind race leader Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack), while his cousin Dan Martin drops down to 87th at 5'28" after being held up in an earlier crash.

A playful Sagan, who says he enjoys putting on a show for fans, said his victory gesture -- in which he churned his arms as a runner might -- was a nod to the title character in the film 'Forrest Gump.'

"It's a thing I'd discussed with my team-mates about what kind of gesture I'd do on the line," Sagan said of his Liquigas-Cannondale squad.

"Everybody said: 'Do a Forrest Gump' because when he was told to run, he ran.

"And when I'm told to win, I win."

Sagan also showed a humbler side, saying he felt honoured to ride alongside complete riders like Vincenzo Nibali and two-time Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso on the Italian squad.

"With Basso, I feel like I'm on the level of someone who would shine his shoes," Sagan said.

Today's fourth stage takes riders on another bumpy ride along several hills, a 214.5-km jaunt from Abbeville to Rouen in the heart of Normandy.

Irish Independent

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