Tour de France 2020

Sagan won’t hold back in TDF sprints, despite 2017 disqualification

CHOLET, France (VN) — Peter Sagan is happy to return to the 2018 Tour de France after leaving early in 2017 following a sprint incident with Mark Cavendish. The three-time world champion will lead the Bora-Hansgrohe team in the hunt for a green jersey and…

CHOLET, France (VN) — Peter Sagan is happy to return to the 2018 Tour de France after leaving early in 2017 following a sprint incident with Mark Cavendish.

The three-time world champion will lead the Bora-Hansgrohe team in the hunt for a green jersey and stage wins while Rafal Majka will aim for the overall classification.

“The story of last year is already passed, we talked about it a lot,” Sagan said.

“Every sprint is different, you can’t be careful enough for something … Still, I know what happened last year, if it’s the same sprint this year, I think I would do it again the same because it wasn’t my fault.

“I don’t think how careful I need to be in the sprints, it just happened. Also this year, I’ll have to be in the front, and you never know what will happen.”

Sagan was sent home after a stage four bump with Cavendish, who fell to the ground and broke his shoulder blade. The jury looked at the final meters and said that the Slovak was disqualified for irregular sprinting.

The German WorldTour team took it to the CAS high court and it later ruled the move was unintentional. The controversy led the UCI to change how it adjudicates sprint finishes. Now, the race jury can use can use a video referee system that helps it easily spot who is doing what, intentionally or not.

This July 4 crash resulted in both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan exiting the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

It was two months before Cavendish returned to racing, and the Brit still says that he cannot put full weight on his shoulder.

“I think Sagan got on with racing his bike again, perhaps some at this team didn’t but that’s not really him,” Cavendish said. “I’d just like to get into 2018 and hopefully I can race against the world champion and the other champions in cycling.”

Sagan, responding to a question about his relationship with Cavendish, said, “For sure, it’s very good from my side.”

What did he mean by saying “my side”? “I have nothing to say. Are we speaking? We did a little bit in the Tour of California, yeah. Yeah, everything’s OK.”

Sagan will race for stage wins, especially in the first nine stages from France’s northwest to the northern area around Paris. Stage 9 ends in Roubaix after covering 21.7 kilometers of cobbles — which will be a special day since Sagan won the Paris-Roubaix classic this spring.

“It’s not a normal stage, it’s a special stage because we are racing on cobblestones,” Sagan said. “It’s a different totally than Paris-Roubaix because we are racing with GC riders. We will see what kind of situation comes up in the race, for sure it’ll be a good possibility, but we’ll see,” explained Sagan.

“If I can win the Roubaix, stage, yes [it will have special significance]. I’ll try to win, but you never know the situation in the race, we have to be careful and we still don’t know what to expect from that stage because we are racing with different riders in the group than we had in Paris-Roubaix. But for sure, you can’t compare it [to the classic].”

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Sagan must first make it through the first week to have a chance next Sunday in Roubaix. On Saturday, he could win the sprint and take the yellow jersey. His team must also ride a strong time trial to protect overall leader Majka. And of course, Sagan must avoid any troubles.

“I’m happy they invite me again. I’m happy to be here and to compete with the best riders in the world. It’s nice,” he said.

“The goal is always to keep ourselves safe, out of trouble and no crashes. Then if you can win one or, always better, two times. The big goal is the green jersey, but it’s all depending on the legs and how the race is going.”

Sagan won five green points jerseys in a row through 2016. If he wins a sixth, he would match German Erik Zabel’s record. He will face competition from riders like Michael Matthews (Sunweb).

“We are going to see who the rivals are after two weeks. For now, it’s everyone!”