The three-time world champion was outmuscled by Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE-Emirates) for the win, but Sagan came away with something unexpected — the climber’s jersey.
“It is strange for me to wear the mountain jersey,” Sagan said at the line. “I got some points for the ‘ciclamino’ jersey but tomorrow will be another hard stage, so we will have to see day by day.”
All eyes are on Sagan at this Giro. The Slovakian superstar is skipping the northern classics, now rescheduled to conflict with the Giro’s new dates in October, just so he could live up to his promise to race the Giro for the first time.
After coming up short at the Tour de France, where Sagan did not win a stage or claim a career eighth points (green) jersey in Paris, Sagan is hoping to see more success in the three-week Italian grand tour.
Bora-Hansgrohe rode aggressively to control breakaways to give Sagan a chance for the win. The finale didn’t quite go as expected as there was a flurry of attacks on the final hump to the line.
“Our goal was to try for a stage win with Peter, so we controlled the race and didn’t let a big breakaway group form,” said Bora-Hansgrohe sport director Jan Valach.
“The final climb was really fast and Peter had good legs. There was an attack a bit earlier than expected and Peter closed the gap to the two men in the front. He took second place in the finish and the mountain jersey. Everybody did a good job throughout the stage.”
Of course, Sagan didn’t come to the Giro to finish second in every stage, nor does he expect to wear the climber’s jersey for long.
A stalwart in the fight for the points jersey in every grand tour he’s started — he’s won seven green jerseys in the Tour but has yet to win a Vuelta a España points jersey in four starts — Sagan will be looking to secure some stage wins early to take control of the Giro’s points jersey. Italian Ulissi is emerging as a likely opponent.
“The final climb of the stage was pretty hard, 3.7km and from the bottom to the top we went full gas,” Sagan said. “In hindsight, maybe I could have done something better. When I caught Ulissi and Honoré, maybe I should have sprinted immediately, but I was also on the limit because of the big effort I did to catch them. When they sprinted I gave my maximum but Diego was stronger and won with a margin of four or five bikes. It is what it is, and I’m satisfied with my second place.”