Just like there’s no backing down in a Tour de France sprint, there’s no ceding ground in a brooding grand tour ‘polemica.’
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) have had the chance to sleep on their angry clash after the Tour de France sprint showdown in Poitiers on Wednesday, and their respective views haven’t shifted one inch.
Sagan and Van Aert came shoulder-to-shoulder – and head-to-head – in the frenetic sprint to the line at the close of stage 11, leaving Sagan relegated for ‘dangerous sprinting,’ and the pair sharing a heated exchange of views at the finish line.
Van Aert didn’t come away scot-free from the incident, being fined 185 Euros for swearing at Sagan in the angry post-sprint haze. The Belgian was apologetic before the stage Thursday, but was sticking to his guns.
“It [Sagan’s move] was of course too dangerous, but my reaction was not what it should be,” Van Aert said Thursday morning. “I got fined for it, so so did he – he was fined and got relegated. I think it was the right decision of the jury to take both decisions.”
— Nicolás Van Looy (@Vanlooyalfas) September 9, 2020
When asked by reporters whether he had regrets over the developing tensions, Van Aert was not stepping down.
“It’s not because of my fault that this started,” he said. “Like I said, it was from my side not good to react like that. And afterwards I tried to talk to him and it was impossible. So I think the jury made a good decision to relegate him and fine me, because I should know my emotions better. But what happened [in the sprint] is something else.”
Sagan’s brash move up the side of the barriers cost him a vital score in the green jersey competition, where he now trails Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) by 68 points.
“No matter what I think, I have to accept the jury’s decision,” Sagan said before stage 12 Thursday. “I don’t think what I did was dangerous. The only one who was in danger was me. Van Aert’s reaction? People can overreact after a sprint like that, there are a lot of emotions when you arrive.”
Eighteen hours later, the emotions are still simmering.