Tour de France 2020

Sagan thanks destiny for Tour stage win

Peter Sagan is back on top at the Tour — and in yellow, to boot — after two years struggling to win a stage

CHERBOURG-EN-COTENTIN, France (VN) — First, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and now, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff): two of cycling’s top stars with already-impressive palmares have now worn their first yellow jerseys. Cavendish took his with a win in Saturday’s stage 1, and further along the coast Sunday, Sagan did the same.

Including Sunday’s win, Sagan has amassed five stage wins and four green jersey titles since turning professional in 2010. But the 26-year-old Slovakian slipped into the yellow jersey for the first time after stage 2. He waved his hands in the air to explain his win, indicating that his time was written in the stars somewhere above.

“I don’t know what’s changed for me,” he said. He referred to his turn of fortune from last year’s string of second places without wins to this year’s success: winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen or the Tour of Flanders and now his first stage in three years, plus the yellow jersey. “But, if I’m today second, then I’m not here now. What can I say? Life is life. What can I change? I believe that everyone has some destiny in the space or somewhere. Maybe for me the first years in the professional ranks were stressful, I don’t know, now I try to enjoy it.”

He has enjoyed it. From his wheelies to his Grease video, from his bizarre wedding photographs to his fake haircut. Even if he placed five times second last year, he laughed it off saying that he probably gained more attention from that run than had he won.

Today in the port town of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, he arrived to the front in his rainbow jersey as the road slightly tipped upwards towards the finish line. He looked back at his rivals, who were powerless in comparison. Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) took second ahead of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

“I’m very happy for this yellow jersey. I have to thank my teammates, who did a good job. Roman Kreuziger did a good job and left me for the last meters,” Sagan said.

“Victory is never easy. It’s the first time in the yellow jersey in my career. You have to first have to have good luck and then things can happen. If it is bad luck, then it is very hard to be in the front.”

Bad luck fell on his teammate and race favorite Alberto Contador for a second day in a row. Contador fell along with Etixx – Quick-Step’s Tony Martin and Marcel Kittel. He regained his position in the group, but slid behind last year’s winner Chris Froome (Sky) and most of the rest of his GC rivals by 48 seconds in the last few kilometers.

“Alberto had bad luck yesterday and also today. Today, I was on his side and this happened. Tony Martin took a speed bump and his hands fell off his bars, and he just fell on the side of Alberto. If he fell on my side, I would’ve crashed,” Sagan added.

“Alberto had bad luck, but then others can too. He lost 48 seconds, it’s not great, but that’s how it is.”