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Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 3: Verviers – Longwy, 212.5km. Peter Sagan is just too strong

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Mont-Saint-Michel

Peter Sagan’s quote of the day?

What is pressure?

As team mate Marcus Burghardt said; “he was such power in his head and that’s what makes the difference.

Despite pulling his foot in the sprint at the top of that nasty finish climb he was just too quick for everyone.

His team’s press release summed it up thus:

The line just a few hundred metres away, the sheer power of the Slovak rider ripped his shoe out of his pedal. 

“For any other rider this would have been the end, but Peter calmly clipped back in and regained his rhythm, throwing his bike over the line to take the win – his eighth Tour de France stage victory and the BORA-Hansgrohe team’s first in this prestigious race.”

Verviers
Peter is aiming for another Green Jersey competition victory. Photo©Gautier Demouveaux/ASO

All the ones we expected to be there were in the mix – Matthews, GVA, Dan Martin, Thomas but the Champion du Monde was just too good for them all to take his eighth career Tour stage.

The man is so cool under fire but a huge personality with real colour in a peloton mostly made up of shades of grey.

I joined the action with around two hours to go and it wasn’t too bad on the ‘paint drying index’ – six men up the road, more came across, the break split, the peloton turned up the gas and with an hour to go we had four up the road with a 1:40 + gap.

Biggest gun was Thomas De Gendt (Lotto & Belgium), an escape artist of real quality with stage wins in Catalonia, Paris-Nice, the Dauphine, Suisse, the Giro and le Tour – not a man to gift daylight to.

Peter Sagan
Thomas De Gendt out front, all is normal. Photo©Gautier Demouveaux/ASO

Pierre-Luc Perichon (Team Fortuneo – Oscaro & France) was originally a track rider but fifth overall this year in De Panne tells you he can handle himself on the road.

Romain Hardy, Perichon’s compatriot and team mate who moved across from Cofidis this year; he has no huge results but is a very solid team rider.

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie & France) is one of the ‘coming men’ of French cycling, originally a cyclo-cross rider he’s found his road legs quickly, winning a stage in the Vuelta last season and stages and GC in all three of the Etoille de Beseges, Coppe e Bartali and Circuit de la Sarthe.

Huge wins for a pro continental team; he’ll be World Tour next year for sure – unless team boss, Monsieur Bernadeau has blackmailed him into signing for next year to get his Tour ride this year?

Surprisingly, De Gendt was shelled with 22 K but perhaps he could see that they weren’t going to go all the way to the line and was keeping his matches for another day – Perichon popped next as Calmejane punched on solo; very strong.

But the big Frenchman popped out of the toaster with 10 K to go – there’d be no Tour stage win to add to his Vuelta one, this day.

Peter Sagan
The F1 Spa racing circuit featured in today’s parcours. Photo©Gautier Demouveaux/ASO

Trek were piling it on at that stage for Alberto? – there was a day – or maybe Degenkolb? aided by BMC for GVA or Porte?

Inside five miles it was QuickStep on the right for Gilbert or maybe Stybar?

And what about the Belgian team’s big Julien Vermote? Does that boy never get tired?

But there were plenty of other teams’ teeth on show as the speed of the peloton built and built.

Sunweb lurk for Matthews, Sagan isn’t far away, Colbrelli, Demare, GVA, Dan Martin…

This is the steep part with 1500 metres to go – Contador to the fore but BMC look very good.

Red kite and Porte goes, Contador covers as Sagan appears up front and watches and waits and waits – aahhh ! he pulls his foot but re-clips and GOES.

Matthews comes late but it’s Sagan with a big bike throw to take it from the front from the Aussie.

His victory salute is low key, as if to say; ‘would you expect anything less of me?

Peter Sagan
Peter won despite pulling his foot out within sight of the line. Photo©Gautier Demouveaux/ASO

I made my first ‘raid’ on the High Street today; my target? The International Newsagents and the possibility of a glittering prize on the paper rack outside – Saturday’s issue of L’Équipe.

It was Friday’s edition, damn it, but I thought I’d buy it anyway; and besides, if you browse the merchandise the old Asian proprietor helpfully reminds you that he’s running an emporium which sells newspapers – not a library, if you spend too long scanning the goods.

I was hopeful for L’Équipe stats and there were a few interesting ones – Froome’s race days/wins in the previous years he’s won the race: 2013/31/9 – 2015/28/5 – 2016/27/5 and this year 2017/27/zero.

I saw him interviewed the other day and it seems he has it firmly in mind that he wants to win the Vuelta after he’s taken care of business in France and that’s why he’s eased up on the early season watts.

Today he was right there in the top 10 with Thomas; leaving nothing to chance – and he’s moved up to second overall.

As a man said to me the other day; ‘he has one hand on the trophy already’ – I couldn’t agree more.

Peter Sagan
Geraint Thomas is looking comfortable in yellow, and with Froome now safely in second place, things are well-placed for Team Sky. Photo©Gautier Demouveaux/ASO

A day for the sprinters tomorrow – Kittel again? or maybe Demare, who’s also looking good to me.

BUT, Cav went for the intermediate sprint from the chasing peloton – and won it.

He’s practicing for tomorrow…

A demain.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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