Tour de France 2020

Tour de France roundtable: Peter Sagan’s grip on green and the Tour’s invisible teams

It's looking likely Sagan's long run of green jersey dominance will end in Paris on Sunday – is it the end of an era?

Sunweb took its third win of the Tour de France as Søren Kragh Andersen denied the sprinters with a late solo move on a lumpy transitional stage in the Ain region Friday.

Behind Kragh Andersen, green jersey rivals Sam Bennett, Peter Sagan, and Matteo Trentin sprinted for the minor places, with the points classification now almost certainly safe in the hands of Deceuninck-Quick-Step sprinter Bennett. Should the Irishman seal the green jersey in Paris, he will put an end to Sagan’s run of winning the points classification in every Tour he’s finished since 2012.

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Further down the road, the GC battle went on simmer as all the favorites rolled in together, saving their legs for Saturday’s time trial, the final day of true racing at this year’s Tour.

Time to chew over the action – let’s roundtable!

Sunweb was the breakout team of the Tour this year – but have any teams proven disappointing?

Fred Dreier (@freddreier): I had huge ambitions for Groupama-FDJ and Thibaut Pinot this year. On paper, Pinot was among the top GC riders in the bunch, and his supporting cast was extremely strong. Once Pinot fell from the GC picture Groupama failed to achieve much, other than attacking into the occasional breakaway. Another disappointing squad was Cofidis, as I had high ambitions for the dual focus of Elia Viviani for the sprints and Guillaume Martin for the GC. Martin put up a valiant fight, but Viviani was nowhere to be seen.

Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): Bora-Hansgrohe may have most likely failed to take the green jersey and seen its GC hopes dashed by Buchmann’s injury, so they will leave the Tour disappointed. However, they lit up the race with aggressive stage-hunting maneuvers and bully-boy tactics as they tried to weaken Sagan’s rivals that were far from boring to watch. For me, the biggest flop of the Tour was Israel Start-Up Nation. Sure, Dan Martin was injured from the start and 2021 is their big year with the arrival of Froome, Woods, and Co., but the team went into this year’s race with big ambitions to win a stage, and other than Politt making a few breaks, I can’t remember them doing much at all.

Dan Cavallari (@browntiedan): Bora-Hansgrohe had a pretty underwhelming Tour. Kämna’s win was really the sole highlight. Sure, Sagan wore green for a few stages, but he didn’t seem himself at all, both in terms of his performance and his usual whimsical and fun demeanor. Here’s to hoping Peter’s Giro reminds us why he’s one of the greats and a treat for the sport.

It’s almost impossible for Peter Sagan to take the green jersey now – is this an end of an era?

Jim: Sagan will ride on to take more major victories in his career I think – at 30, he has time on his side. He took top-10s six times at this year’s Tour, and that takes class. However, his days of world-crushing dominance and swagger are over I think. Bora-Hansgrohe did everything possible to give him every chance possible at this year’s Tour and he failed to deliver. It’s been more than a year since the Slovak won a race, and I can’t see him returning to his prolific winningness at this stage of his career.

Fred: The era of carefree, wheelie-poppin’, funny-quote-sayin’ Peter Sagan ended long ago. I think it evaporated sometime during his three world titles. After that, Sagan was still a threat to win big races like Paris-Roubaix and Tour de France sprints. Whether or not we’re still in that era is yet to be seen. I think you can make a decent argument that Sagan and other older riders were impacted more by the COVID-19 shutdown than the younger guys, as Sagan requires a lot of racing to get back to form.

Dan: Sagan certainly didn’t seem like himself this year at the Tour de France. He didn’t win the green jersey and still has not won a stage, but more disappointing than that, Sagan just seems like he doesn’t care, or want to be there at all. Is he keeping his powder dry for the Giro? Or is he truly just not on form this year? Either way, I sure do miss the animated and fun Sagan of old. I don’t think it’s the end of an era; it’s too early to ring that alarm. But hopefully, Sagan finds his mojo for the upcoming reasons — for the sake of the fans as much as for his own.

Does ending the Tour with a transitional stage, a time trial, and then the Paris procession make for an underwhelming conclusion?

Dan: It is perhaps not as exciting as it could be in terms of terrain, but there’s still plenty left to be decided by these stages. Can Sagan win a stage at this year’s Tour de France? Can Porte pull off a “hail mary” time trial to get himself on the podium? And of course, what will all the pomp and circumstance in Paris look like with all those Jumbo-Visma jerseys leading the way instead of Ineos Grenadiers? The Tour was an exciting one this year, so I don’t have much to complain about, but hey, one more big mountain stage instead of a sprint stage before the TT would have been nice.

Fred: No. The fact that there’s an uphill time trial that requires a bike change the day before the Champs Élysées is awesome and weird.

Jim: It certainly feels like the race for yellow is over, with Roglič now 57 seconds ahead. There will be some intrigue as to whether López holds off Porte in the TT to retain third overall, but I can’t help but feel that Prudhomme and Co. let off all its fireworks atop the Col de la Loze. The final Alpine stage Thursday was dry of GC action, as was today. I think the race would have benefitted by having the mountains right up to stage 19, then the TT, then Paris, so as to eke out at least one more day of suspense.