Just the same, he was in good humor atop the Mûr de Bretagne climb. After all, he boosted his bid for a sixth green jersey by finishing well ahead of other points classification hopefuls. Plus, he’s already got two stages in the bag. He thinks the fans deserve a chance to see someone else win a stage here and there.
“It’s also good for different teams to win. It’s not boring that way,” Sagan joked after the stage. “Still some points, and we didn’t crash. Everything’s fine.”
The third-category ascent looked like a good finish for Sagan, but things didn’t play out in his favor Thursday. On the day’s second and final trip up the climb, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) attacked with one kilometer to go. The Irishman held on to take the win, with a handful of climbers — including Sagan’s teammate Rafal Majka — following him over the line before Sagan.
In the end, two visits to the climb proved too selective for the reigning world champion.
“A climb like this, I thought it was going to be much better for me because there was a headwind into the climb, but in the end, it was very hard for me,” Sagan said.
“The first climb of Mûr de Bretagne, it was okay, but the second time, it was hard to take 90 kilos up there.”
Even without a winning ride on the day, Sagan padded his lead in the points classification in stage 6. He has added to his green jersey points total in every road stage of Tour so far, with wins in stage 2 and 5 and runner-up performances in stages 1 and 4. None of the other riders in the mix for green — Quick-Step’s Fernando Gaviria chief among them — finished stage 6 anywhere near the points mix.
What’s more, Bora-Hansgrohe achieved a secondary goal by landing Majka fifth on the day, pushing him into ninth overall. As versatile as Sagan is, Bora will eventually shift the focus to Majka when the road starts to tilt upward next week, and at least over the first few days, the Pole has been thriving.
“We knew that it was going be a hard finish for Peter, but he was close again,” said sports director Enrico Poitschke. “[Majka] proved he is in strong shape and while some GC contenders already lost some seconds, he was up there with the best.”
Bora will stay busy in the coming days. Stages 7 and 8 should come down to sprint finishes, where Sagan will certainly be in the mix for points and is more than capable of snatching victories should things get hectic in the finales, as he proved in stage 2. Then comes the much-anticipated stage 9, with its 15 sectors of cobblestones.
If Sagan could win on the Roubaix pavé once already this year, why not again on the sport’s biggest stage?