Andre Demare (FDJ) won the 18th stage of the Tour de France and owes a debt of gratitude to Peter Sagan’s ass. Thank-you, posterior of Mr. Sagan.
When the Slovakian crashed at high speed yesterday on the descent of Col de Val Louron-Azet, he effectively took himself out of the running for victory in Pau.
That opened the door wide for Demare in a sprint that was missing the three sprinters who had collectively won six stages at this year’s Grand Boucle: Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep Floors), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and, of course, Sagan, who is dominating the green jersey competition.
Demare also didn’t have to deal with time-cut victims Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and the fast but ineffectual Marcel Kittel (Katusha). They were long gone, unable to bring their impressive wattage to the show.
That’s about as golden as golden opportunities get to win a stage in the Tour. The level of competition had fallen so precipitously that Demare’s main competition was Alexandre Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and, wait for it, a sprinter from, yup, it’s coming, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis).
Demare had somehow succeeded where the other sprinters failed in dragging himself over the Alps and Pyrenees to contest the sprint into Pau. Plus he had a chip on his shoulder — he was madder than mad — after Andre Greipel accused him of taking a tow to get over those high mountains and make the time cut.
It was clear that a massive weight was lifted off Demare’s shoulders as he cross the finish line. “I’ve been through some difficult moments but I really wanted to make it to the final sprints and play my cards. I always believed in myself and my chances of winning in this Tour,” Démare said. “Winning today, before the final chance on the Champs Elysees is great for my motivation. This is for my wife, my family and my friends. People who know me, know how hard I trained for the Tour de France and this goal. That’s why I’m so happy today.”
Hey, what he’s really saying is that he’s so happy Sagan “flew through the forest” and “hit a big rock with my ass.” It’s not the most impressive race strategy, as it entails another sprinter misguiding a corner and crashing and several other sprinters missing the time cut, but all in all, it did the trick.
Leftovers at the Tour de France are a delicious feast.
Whether Sagan’s ass and legs will recover in time to really contest the iconic sprint finish of the Tour de France along the Champs Elysees, is up for conjecture. Who practically all the super fast men gone, it’s really Demare, maybe Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Sagan in the mix.
That’s pretty good odds for Demare, who would have a chance to match his faster rivals with two stage wins in this Tour de France.
Personally, we suspect that Peter Sagan will quickly get his ass in order and be ready to win in Paris. Andre Demare will simply be in the rear somewhere.