Winning more stages, however, may be out of the question.
“I think I can finish with four stages to go,” Sagan said. “I take it day by day.”
Patxi Vila, Sagan’s coach and Bora-Hansgrohe’s director, said the injury will likely keep Sagan from contesting for the win on Thursday’s stage from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau. On paper, the 171km stage is custom-fit for Sagan, who already owns three sprint victories at this Tour de France. The route includes a few punchy hills, with a predominantly flat finish in Pau.
“We’re not looking for a performance today,” Vila said. “We want him back on track. Today is our call to see how it feels.”
Should Sagan be absent from the sprint, it would leave just one remaining stage—Sunday’s finale in Paris — for him to contest. Sagan has never won the Tour’s final stage on the Champs-Élysées.
Sagan crashed hard on Wednesday’s stage 17 from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Col du Portet, sliding out on the descent of the Col de Val Louron-Azet, approximately 38km from the finish line. The Slovakian, who currently leads the race’s points competition, rode the final 15km climb to the Col du Portet summit in bloody tatters; he sported deep cuts and scrapes to his right arm and leg, and his jersey and bike shorts were reduced to ribbons.
After he crossed the line atop the Col du Portet Sagan spent nearly an hour in the medical truck.
“I crashed in a turn. In the corner I made a mistake,” Sagan told reporters after stepping out of the medical truck. “It looked like a fast corner, but after I just went a little more right. I was braking but it wasn’t enough. After I flew through the forest and I hit a big rock with my ass.”
According to the team, X-rays confirmed that Sagan had not broken any bones. Instead, he suffered bruising, cuts, and road rash.
Patxi Vila, Sagan’s coach, said Sagan was fighting through pain and soreness prior to the start on Thursday morning. Vila said Sagan’s mood is still high, despite the discomfort.
Thanks everybody for your support and messages! That was a hard crash but, fortunately, I haven't broken anything and I feel confident about the last four stages of @LeTour (@bettiniphoto) pic.twitter.com/9VuYYmFl0W
— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) July 25, 2018
“It’s sore bones and soreness and stuff — it’s not ideal,” Vila said. “Peter is good at pretty much everything, and he’s really good at handling this type of situation. The mood is good.”
Sagan arrived at the start for Thursday’s stage 18 in Trie-sur-Baise with multiple white bandages fixed to his right shin, thigh, and forearm. TV cameras mobbed Sagan as he rode to the sign in; in the chaos of the scrum one media member bumped into Sagan’s wounds. The three-time world champion groaned as he backed away from the jostling group.
“I have some scratches from yesterday,” he told reporters. “I am sore. I hit my ass muscle. It is not a pleasure but I have to keep going.”
Vila said the team’s primary goal is to now shepherd Sagan to Paris, where his record-tying sixth points title awaits him. Sagan currently holds an insurmountable lead in the green points jersey competition with 452 total points. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) is second, with 170 points.