The Man in the Rainbow Jersey showed everyone in France that clipped in or clipped out, he’s the most versatile and talented sprinter in the world.
World Champion Peter Sagan once again showed his exceptional bike handling skills and poise after popping out of his pedal clip 400 meters from the uphill finish line in Longwy. He simply clipped back it, hit the accelerator again and and kept his lead over a hard charging Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Dan Martin (Quick Step Floors).
“I decided to go – I guess it was too early – it was 400m to go. It was far away, in the moment, I said ‘fuck, again too early’. Then I started my sprint, and as I pushed – I pulled my feet out from the cleat. It was another mistake, I was like, ‘what is happening today?’ – after I that I won. Matthews almost beat me, but I am very happy for this victory and thank you Bora-Hansgrohe,” said Sagan.
That’s the post stage statement but perhaps the better quote is Sagan’s reaction to how much pressure he was under to deliver a win for his new team on the biggest stage in pro cycling. “What is pressure? I don’t know what it is.” Yes, that’s a superstar who oozes confidence.
Now Chris Froome is a worthy champion and a nice guy but, compared to Sagan, he’s like a 5 watt nightlight bulb compared to the Slovakian’s 600 watt halogen brilliance. Pro cycling putters along with stars like Froome but Sagan is the life and energy, the panache and style.
It was a signature win that sets up his young Bora-Hansgrohe squad for more success in Le Grand Shindig. Give the man an uphill or technical finish and he will drop the pure fast man like Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel way back in the pack.
While it was a fabulous win, you could argue that Cannondale-Drapac had just as big triumph. On stage two, Taylor Phinney jumped early into a breakaway and rode it all the way to the final kilometer before being swamped by the sprinters. For his bold efforts, he scored the first polka-dot jersey in the race for best climber. A hilarious and ironic bit of work for a time trial giant who stands over 6′ 5″.
Today, it was the turn of young gun Nate Brown, riding his first Tour de France after several participations in the Vuelta a Espana. Following the same script as Phinney, he forced his way into a six man breakaway and stole enough points on the road to take the polka dot jersey off his teammate Phinney’s back. It was a dream so beyond his imagination that he was basically flabbergasted: “If you had told me I’d be the one to take the jersey, I would have told you that you were crazy, even this morning,” said Brown.
A few years ago, Brown was on the famous Axel Merckx Finishing School for Physiological freaks — also know as the Axeon development squad. Go to the homepage of the team and the first headline you see is “Cycling’s Next Generation.” Well, Brown has taken his dev to a whole new level in Le Tour.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” said Brown. “I never thought in a million years I’d be in the polka dot jersey at the Tour. I have no words. I’m speechless. I really don’t know what to say.”
Three stages in and it’s already been a swell Tour for Jonathan Vaughters squad and a great performance from two of the only three Americans in the race. We’ll wait until the Pyrenees and Alps to see what third man Andrew Talansky can cool up.