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Tour de France

Who will challenge Peter Sagan for the Tour de France’s green jersey? Few rivals step up

Caleb Ewan, Alexander Kristoff, and other top sprinters say they are chasing stage wins and not the Tour de France's green points jersey.

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We’re only three days into the 2020 Tour de France, and it appears Peter Sagan just needs to stay upright for the next three weeks to win another green jersey.

One by one, his rivals have said they’re not chasing the prized points jersey, leaving Sagan to chase green by himself.

Alexander Kristoff, the winner of stage 1? Nope. Wout Van Aert? He’s strictly on helper duty for the team’s GC’s ambitions. What about Caleb Ewan, who dipped and dived through the peloton Monday like he was a slalom skier?

“I’m not interested,” Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) said following his thrilling victory. “For now, the priority is going for stage wins. Unless I get really close and I get a lot of points if I win more stages, I’m not going for it.”

Stage wins first, then maybe — that’s the talking point from Ewan to Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) to Kristoff. Only Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) seems to be putting up a fight.

“It was super chaotic today, the position was quite good, but I mistake to get into the wind too early,” Trentin said Monday. “I went from second to eighth — it could have been better.”

Sagan moved into the green jersey lead Monday, and could keep it all the way to Paris. Sagan, who’s won seven of the past eight green jerseys at the Tour, leads with 79 points to Kristoff’s 77. Bennett is third with 74, and Trentin slots into fourth with 54.

“I’m happy for this green jersey,” Sagan said after finishing fifth. “It’s nice to wear it, and I will do my best to keep it all the way to Paris.”

Why is Sagan so unbeatable in the points battle? He’s able to score points in a variety of scenarios. Unlike the pure sprinters, he can get over some moderate climbs, and pick up intermediate sprints along the way. And he’s also good for a stage win or two himself, especially in grinding uphill finales, that typically pushes him over the top.

And the way the points are allocated under Tour rules, Sagan is able to grab a lead early, and simply out-muscle anyone who dares to try to challenge him for his annual stop on the podium in Paris.

Ewan, who hinted he might take up a points challenge if he keeps racking up stage wins, also thanked Sagan for not closing the door on him in the thrilling sprint finish Monday.

His comments came on the heels of a few high-profile crashes in the peloton, including one involving Dylan Groenewegen, who came off his line in stage 1 at the Tour de Poland and sent Fabian Jakobsen sprawling into the fences. The Dutch now faces a long recovery period, and his professional future remains uncertain.

“None of us sprinters want to put anyone in harm’s way,” Ewan said. “I don’t know if [Sagan] even knew if I was there or not, but I like to think if he knew I was there, and he wouldn’t take the chance of putting me in the barriers. I think I came through quite quick on the inside, so there was a risk that he wouldn’t see me there and I’d be closed off, but luckily he left just enough room for me to get through.”

If those fears of what happened in Poland were on Ewan’s mind Monday, he didn’t show it as danced his way through the bunch.

“I was too far forward with 1km to go so I knew I had to adjust my sprint a bit and go back in the wheels and take a bit of a risk,”Ewan said. “I think I came around quite close to the barrier but luckily I got through and got a really good run at the line.”