ABBEVILLE, France (VN) — Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has a solid grip on the Tour de France’s green jersey thanks to two stages wins. His win on the short ramp into Boulogne-sur-Mer on Tuesday forced home just how strong he is and how hard he’ll be to manage over a Tour that is heavy on intermediate mountain stages.
The 22-year-old Slovak already leads the classification with 116 points, 42 over Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) with 74. Last year’s maillot vert winner, Mark Cavendish (Sky) holds 73 points. The three have divided the race’s four stages amongst them: Cancellara in the prologue, Cavendish in the stage 2 sprint and Sagan in the two uphill kicks.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), with 67 points, and Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), with 55 points, trail further back. Goss gained his points in the intermediate sprints and by placing third on Monday. His stated goal ahead of the Tour is to win his first stage and to aim for the green. He is still going to have to deal with Sagan.
“He’s got a pretty good advantage at the moment, so we’ll just keep to our objectives of chasing points and doing well in stages,” Orica’s general manager, Shayne Bannan told VeloNews.
Bannan believes Goss’ experience and speed may win him the jersey.
Leadout man Daryl Impey told VeloNews that Sagan’s inexperience in the big Tour bunch finishes would give Goss an edge.
“A three-week stage race is a bit different than a 10-day stage race, particularly when they start in the mountains,” he said. “Other things can happen in the race, there could be a day he misses the finish or in the bunch sprints, where he’s not as confident as he is in an uphill finish. Goss is a lot better in the big bunch sprints.
“Hopefully there are a few other sprinters that are still trying to get up there. Having more sprinters in the final sprinting, the better for us.”
The Tour de France features three more likely sprint stages in the next three days that should suit Goss and Cavendish. They, along with André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), showed they were able to sprint ahead of Sagan in stage 2’s high-speed finale. They’ll need to gain as many points as possible before the race reaches the Vosgues Mountains over the weekend, where Sagan should again come to the fore.
Sagan, however, is able to hold his own. On Monday, he placed ahead of many top sprinters in the finale. His job could become easier, too. José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) both suffered crashes on Tuesday.
“Sagan is very dangerous in the green jersey,” Sky’s sports director, Sean Yates said. “Right now, it’s not our priority. Our priority is protecting Brad and keeping him out of trouble. Cavendish knows that, but he can have his own little goals during this Tour.”
More and more confidence surrounds Sagan in his green jersey, which matches nicely with the lime-green Liquigas kit. In the post-race press conference on Tuesday, he made no secret that he’s here to take the maillot vert to Paris. He plans to try in the coming sprints.
“You need luck in the sprints… However, day-by-day, [the sprinters] are going to get tired too,” said Sagan. “I hope to win, if not, then to lose as few points as possible.”