A day after watching points classification rival Mark Cavendish steal the first stage win of the 2016 Tour de France, current UCI world champion Peter Sagan worked his own magic to slip into not just the green jersey but also the yellow version. Sagan, who has worn the green jersey in Paris each of the past four years, has succeeded in large part not by claiming a slew of stage victories but by consistently placing himself at the front of not only the flat stages but also the sorts of punchy uphill finishes that we saw today at the finish in Cherbourg. In winning Stage 2, Sagan claimed just the fifth Tour stage win to date of his eight-year pro career.
It was a heartbreaker for Jasper Stuyven, the Belgian riding for Trek who had been away off the front all day in the breakaway and was battling to win a stage in his inaugural Tour de France. Stuyven broke away just a few kilometers into the race along with King of the Mountains jersey bearer Paul Voss, Vegard Breen, and Cesare Benedetti, toying with the peloton as their lead expanded and contracted throughout the day. Benedetti fell off in the final 30 kilometers of the stage, but the other three kept surging and continued to hold a lead that hovered around three minutes wide with 20 kilometers left to race on the day.
Meanwhile, behind the leaders several GC contenders were also struggling with the course. For the second straight day, Spanish favorite Alberto Contador hit the deck and was forced to try to claw back time. This time he was unable to make up the difference, losing 48 seconds at the end. His misfortune wasn’t quite as bad as that suffered by Richie Porte, who incurred a punctured tire less than 10 kilometers from the finish and lost 1:45 on the leaders as a result. Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, the two men who were one-two atop the podium last year, were able to protect themselves and came out with a major advantage on a couple of rivals.
For the breakaway, the lead would not last as the peloton ramped up its speed in hopes of catching the leaders. Straining to stay ahead, the elevated speed caused one breakaway rider after another to peel off the front, until just Stuyven remained in the lead. The Belgian gamely fought on in the final kilometers, retaining a nominal lead even as the gaping maw of the main field gnashed ever closer behind him. With less than 500 meters left in the day’s stage, Stuyven was finally swept up into the fold and the spoils were left for the pack to sprint out.
Sagan was at the front of the field in the final kilometer, biding his time and holding some power in reserve as the meters passed by. Etixx-Quick Step’s Julian Alaphilippe took the initiative, opening up the sprint and dreaming of giving France its first stage win of this year’s event. But Sagan, bedecked in the rainbow stripes of the world champ, came around Alaphilippe’s wheel and ramped up that extra gear to fend off both the Frenchman and Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde for the stage win in Cherbourg.
Like Cavendish, his flatland rival, this win gave Sagan his first-ever taste of the maillot jaune as race leader. But he hadn’t even realized it at the finish line, assuming that two riders had remained off the front until the finish. Also like Cavendish, the yellow is hardly Sagan’s primary goal this year. But he will certainly take pride in the fact that he became the first Slovak rider to don the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, making history with his uphill surge.
Tomorrow’s stage from Granville to Angers is another flat stage, with only the fourth-category Cote de Viledieu-les-Poeles on the day’s map. With the pure sprinters of the field hungry to perform in their limited number of chances for victories, Sagan might concede the yellow jersey as early as Stage 3. While the yellow might be out of the Slovak star’s reach over the course of the three-week race, Sagan has served notice that he remains the man to beat in the battle for the green jersey. Though Cavendish proved on Saturday that he is on good form, Sagan has shown that he can compete and contend on a wider variety of course layouts and should have no problem continuing to sweep up points all along the route.
Stage Results and Standings after Stage 2
|1||Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team||4:20:51|
|2||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step|
|3||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team|
|4||Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step|
|5||Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange|
|6||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo|
|7||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal|
|8||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team|
|9||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|10||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky|
General Classification (yellow jersey)
|1||Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team||8:34:42|
|2||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step||+0:00:08|
|3||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||+0:00:10|
|4||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin||+0:00:14|
|5||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky|
|6||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team|
|7||Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team|
|8||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team|
|9||Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange|
|10||Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step|
Points Classification (green jersey)
|1||Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team||87|
|2||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data||63|
|3||Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step||50|
|4||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal||40|
|5||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step||33|
|6||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie||25|
|7||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha||21|
|8||Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Argon 18||20|
|9||Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling||20|
|10||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||20|
King of the Mountains (polka-dot jersey)
|1||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||4|
|2||Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 18||2|
|3||Vegard Breen (Nor) Fortuneo – Vital Concept||1|
|4||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team||1|
Best Young Rider (white jersey)
|1||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step||8:34:50|
|2||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin||+0:00:06|
|3||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo|
|4||Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange|
|5||Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre – Merida||+0:00:17|
|6||Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale-Drapac||+0:00:23|
|7||Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Fortuneo – Vital Concept|
|8||Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18|
|9||Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18|
|10||Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre – Merida||+0:00:41|