Peter Sagan - record breaker
Peter Sagan lined up for his seventh Tour de France, once again in the rainbow stripes of world champion, with a fierce glint in his eye – that trademark, cheeky emerald glint. With a sixth and record-equalling green jersey on the cards and an opportunity to smash the record for the most stages spent leading a Tour de France classification, Sagan waded straight into the melee with his usual, exuberant confidence.
Tour de success for Sagan
The first yellow jersey may not have landed on the shoulders of the world champion this time around – Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step Floors bested Sagan on the first stage – but the second yellow jersey fell right into his hands only a day later, thus kicking off his green jersey campaign.
Sagan’s famous quote, “if I don't have yellow, I have green. If I don't have green, I have rainbow" was very much in action as the first week progressed, remaining rock solid in green as he took another stage win as well as a handful of top 10 finishes and podium placings.
By week two, the Slovakian was up to all of his old breakaway tricks, infiltrating the daily moves in a bid to rob the hapless escapees of their intermediate sprint reward. The tactic is one that Sagan has mastered over and above his green jersey rivals, and every year it seems the organisers attempt to rejig the points classification in an attempt to give others a chance. Alas, every year Sagan bites back, winning them all.
Further good news came to Sagan as the race traversed the Alps, with the sprinters – his main competition – dropping like flies as the climbs and hot weather bit. With fellow pre-race favourite, Fernando Gaviria, out of the race, the emerald path to Paris looked clear. Then one day after the infamous Alpe d’Huez, Sagan was back to his winning ways, besting the likes of Kristoff, Démare and Degenkolb as he romped home to victory on stage 13.
Week three quietened somewhat, by Sagan’s standards at least, after a crash on stage 17 seriously knocking his confidence and dominant form. Still, the world champion never gave in, his dogged fight through the final mountain stage almost as impressive as each one his Tour de France stage wins combined. His eight place in Paris may not be remembered in the history books, but it will live long in his own memory – a moment of pure relief, success in the face of extreme adversity. The 2018 green jersey win may have just been one of his best.
It was a very difficult day for me and I suffered a lot not just because of the injuries I have from my crash but also from the heat. Once again, my teammates did an excellent work, they protected me during the stage and helped me position myself for the final sprint. I really wanted to try and go for the win but my legs were still hurting. I need to rest and recover more because tomorrow we have another very hard day in the mountains. (Photos @bettiniphoto) Bol to veľmi náročný deň. Trpel som, nielen kvôli zraneniam po mojom včerajšom páde, ale tiež aj kvôli veľkej horúčave. Chalani v tíme odviedli opäť výbornú prácu a snažili sa mi pomáhať. Chránili ma počas celej etapy a tiež ma v záverečnom špurte dostali na výbornú pozíciu. Naozaj som chcel zabojovať o víťazstvo, ale nohy ma stále boleli. Potrebujem oddych a čas na zotavenie, pretože zajtra máme ďalší veľmi ťažký deň v kopcoch.
Sharing the podium with the breakthrough Geraint Thomas in yellow, swashbuckling Julian Alaphilippe in polka dots, and champion gurner, Pierre Latour, in white, Sagan – for the first time – looked humble. For a man who often enjoys a post-stage giggle, seemed blown away by his achievement – his own grand success finally dawning on him.
A record-breaking race
Sagan’s Tour de France ‘by numbers’ is one impressive list of record-equalling, and breaking accolades, quashing those held by some of the Tour’s most prolific riders – Merckx, Virenque and Van Impe included.
By stage 13, Sagan had broken what would prove to be his most impressive record of the three-week race – a total of 97 days leading the points classification, finally topping the tally set by Merckx in the yellow jersey.
Today, Peter Sagan set the record for the most amount of stages in the lead of a Tour de France classification:— Cillian Kelly (@irishpeloton) 20 July 2018
Peter Sagan (Green) - 97
Eddy Merckx (Yellow) - 96
Richard Virenque (Polka Dots) - 95
Lucien van Impe (Polka Dots) - 90#TDF2018
By stage 16, Sagan had collected enough green jersey points to mathematically secure the classification all the way to the finish, provided he stayed upright, of course. As the world champion pedalled into Paris, his Tour stats stood like this:
- 130 race days
- 106 days in the green jersey
- 66 top 10 finishes
- 55 top 5 finishes
- 42 podiums, of which 10 were 3rd and 21 were 2nd
- 11 stage wins
Taking his sixth green jersey in just seven years at the Tour, Sagan equalled the record currently held by Erik Zabel for the most wins in this classification. With the world champion still two years shy of 30, it appears that this record will not only be broken in the years to come but methodically demolished.
Bikes fit for a champion
Riding both the S-Works Tarmac and new 2019 Venge, Peter Sagan was treated to some breathtakingly speedy kit in his pursuit for green. Personalising his own Venge with a custom paintjob, the world champion stood out as he is wont to do – the Venge not only redefining a whole ‘new shape of speed’, but looking devilishly handsome in the process.
Boasting newfound talent on the climbs, the new Venge has shaved a lot of weight from its previous model, while adding even more aerodynamics and stiffness to the front end. The result is an even punchier acceleration, to which Sagan’s victory on stage 5’s uphill finish is testament.
My @borahansgrohe teammates did an amazing job today – Body and Burghardt were pulling on the front from the middle of the stage before everyone else brought me into position for the final climb. In the final stretch, Sky started to pull hard and go full speed, and then Gilbert came over the climb fast too. He tried to attack but we caught him and after, I think Van Avermaet started a little too early, so it really left me and Colbrelli to fight it out. I was pretty lucky because Colbrelli was coming close near the end. During the Tour de France everything is different, but the parcours was like an Ardennes classic – up down, left, right, narrow roads. Technically it was a nice parcours. While there weren’t as many points today – just 30 for the win – it’s better than nothing though, and tomorrow is another day. @borahansgrohe @hansgrohe @iamspecialized @sportful @ride100percent. (Photos @bettiniphoto) Moji spolujazdci z BORA-hansgrohe dnes odviedli opäť skvelú prácu - Bodi a Burghardt ťahali na čele pelotónu uz od polovice etapy, zatiaľ čo ostatní mi pripravili pozíciu do záverečného stúpania. V poslednom úseku začal tvrdiť tempo tím Sky a potom tiež zaútočil Gilbert a snažil sa odpútať od balíka. Rýchlo sme ho však doskočili a myslím že Van Avermet tiež vyrazil trochu skoro, a tak sme zostali vo vzájomnom súboji už len ja a Colbreli. Mal som trochu šťastie, pretože Colbreli sa dostával už na moju úroveň. Počas Tour de France je všetko iné, ale dnešné preteky boli trochu ako Ardénske klasiky - hore, dole, vľavo, vpravo a to všetko na úzkych cestách. Technicky to bola veľmi pekná etapa. Dnes som nezískal až tak veľa bodov, pretože za víťazstvo bolo len 30, ale aj to je lepšie ako nič a zajtra nás čaká ďalší podobný deň.
Supporting him in the Alps and Pyrenees was the trusty and versatile S-Works Tarmac. Whether he was infiltrating the breaks and nabbing intermediate sprint points, or simply surviving the arduous ascents following his crash, the Tarmac made sure the world champion came home safe.
If you’re looking to channel you’re inner Sagan – and who could blame you – then be sure to check out his special edition framesets. The rest of the new S-Works Tarmac and 2019 Venge range can be found right here.
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