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Even Peter Sagan has to admit his limitations. He took the yellow jersey on Sunday and said he wouldn’t keep it “to Paris”. That’s certainly true. He finished the TTT almost 2:36 behind his team-mates in Cholet.

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Following his narrow defeat of Sonny Colbrelli in stage two, Peter Sagan achieved something that many riders dream of: a stint in the Tour de France’s yellow jersey. He’s been there and done that before. And although he admits to preparing “a museum” in which he plans to exhibit some of his prize collection at some point, he’s not one to get too nostalgic about what’s hanging in the wardrobe.

What sits on the mantelpiece, however, is different, as he was quick to point out in the post-race press conference on Sunday.

The season has included two major conquests for Sagan, victory in Paris-Roubaix and a stage win in the Tour that earned him the maillot jaune. Which one is more significant to him? That’s what was asked of him two days ago.

“You can’t compare with Paris-Roubaix with one day in the yellow jersey in the Tour,” he replied, shaking his head. To Sagan it’s obvious which is more special.

“If I can keep [the yellow jersey] until Paris, then it’s something different…” but even Sagan knows his limitations.

“In the end I won’t wear yellow in Paris. Somebody else is going to hold it. I’ll stay more focussed on the green jersey.”

He paused and considered the question some more. And then added: “That rock from Paris-Roubaix, nobody can take it.” Again he paused. Then looked out at the journalists in front of him and asked: “You know?” Then he smiled, knowing the rock of a trophy was safe at his house.

Then, he giggled a little and, in typical Sagan style added: “Well, unless there’s a thief.”

Hahahhahahha. He loves his own jokes.

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Arriving at the finish of the TTT (above), Sagan and Burghardt.

Photo: Jean-Pierre Ronco

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For a while there, early in his career, there was talk about the possibility of turning him into a GC rider after a few years as a sprinter, but that idea seems to have been shelved. Sagan is a racer and he knows how to win but he also recognises when it’s time to be realistic about his abilities. The TTT of stage three is a fine example.

“I had bad legs from the start,” he said. “It was really hot and I also lost my bottle on a bump, just 400 metres into the race.”

No sustenance, no chance of staying with the others from Bora-Hansgrohe. He rolled in to the finish with the support of one team-mate, Marcus Burghardt.

“I gave my best, as I always do, but…” it wasn’t to be. He dropped from first to 80th on GC all because of 35.5km.

BMC Racing average almost 55km/h for the team time trial and they have earned the honour of taking the yellow jersey off Sagan. Greg Van Avermaet is another caretaker of GC leadership.

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Stage winners… BMC Racing – fastest in the TTT.

Photo: Jean-Pierre Ronco

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So far in 2018, things are shaping up as though it may be possible for the record tally of eight riders in one Tour wearing the yellow jersey.

Three stages, three leaders. What’s yet to come?

Sagan is essentially out of contention so even if he wins another stage, he’s not likely to make up the time he lost yesterday. He’s back in the green jersey he knows so well.

If we look down the GC list after three stages, however, the most likely heir – should Van Avermaet surrender yellow – could be Michael Matthews, last year’s green jersey winner. The Australian is ranked ninth overall after three stages, by far the best of the other sprinters.

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Matthews was one ‘sprinter’ who finished the TTT in good condition. He is now ranked ninth on GC, just 11 seconds behind Van Avermaet.

Photo: Jean-Pierre Ronco

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Benefits of the ‘Bonus Point’

There’s a new innovation in the Tour for 2018 and it’s called the ‘Bonus Point’. Towards the end of the road stages up until the first rest day (next Monday) there’s an intermediate sprint of sorts. It doesn’t offer points for the green jersey, rather time bonuses of three, two and one second for the first three over the line.

At the finish of the stage there are time bonsues of 10, six and four seconds for the first three.

Matthews’ deficit to Van Avermaet at the start of stage four is 11 seconds. Should he enjoy an amazing run of luck on the road to Sarzeau, it’s plausible for him to take the yellow jersey although even he will admit it’s unlikely… in stage four at least.

Stage five and six, however, boast the kind of finishes that suit Matthews; uphill, hectic and and the kind of terrain to make it tough on the other sprinters.

We wait to see who the fourth leader of Le Tour 2018 is but optimistic Australian fans could hold hopes that things turn out in favour of last year’s green jersey winner.


– By Rob Arnold