Brotherly love in­spired Sa­gan to Tour stage win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LONGWY: Peter Sa­gan said hav­ing his brother along­side him as he won his eighth Tour de France stage yes­ter­day made it ex­tra spe­cial.

The world cham­pion surged clear on the up­hill fin­ish to win the 212.5km third stage from Verviers in Bel­gium to Longwy. But he cred­ited his brother Ju­raj, the Slo­vak na­tional cham­pion, for work­ing hard all day for his Bora team. “It’s very nice, I’m very happy for him be­cause he can feel also the at­mos­phere of the Tour de France for the first time,” said Sa­gan, 27, of his 28-year-old brother. “I have to say thank you to all my team be­cause they did an amaz­ing job, es­pe­cially my brother, all day in the front pulling to catch the break­away.”

Sa­gan also said it was his brother who had first got him in­ter­ested in bi­cy­cle rac­ing. “It’s spe­cial be­cause he’s my brother, we can race on bikes. “For sure with­out my brother, I’m not here now. It was his idea and af­ter I fol­lowed.”

One of Sa­gan’s shoes was un­clipped in the sprint fin­ish but he kept his cool, re-clipped and pushed on to win ahead of Aus­tralian Michael Matthews, with Dan Martin of Ire­land in third.

Bri­ton Geraint Thomas kept the yel­low jersey af­ter com­ing home in eighth, one place ahead of his Sky team leader and reign­ing cham­pion Chris Froome, two sec­onds be­hind the winner. It meant that Froome moved up to sec­ond over­all, 12 sec­onds be­hind Thomas, with Matthews third on the same time and Sa­gan just one sec­ond fur­ther back in fourth.

It briefly looked as if Thomas and Froome might be caught out as Aus­tralian con­tender Richie Porte launched an at­tack some 800 me­tres from the fin­ish, with even two-time for­mer winner Al­berto Con­ta­dor un­able to hold his wheel. Porte couldn’t keep it up, though, and ac­tu­ally fin­ished 14th, be­hind other con­tenders such as Ro­main Bardet and Nairo Quin­tana.

‘FAN­TAS­TIC PO­SI­TION’

But he ad­mit­ted af­ter­wards he hadn’t planned to go on the at­tack on the 1.6km long fi­nal climb. “The guys put me in a fan­tas­tic po­si­tion there in the fi­nal,” he said. “I felt good but there were still 500 me­tres to go, it was a lit­tle bit too far.” Thomas in­sisted he and Froome hadn’t been too wor­ried, but said it showed Porte was in good form. “As we started the climb, my­self and Froomey were a lit­tle far back, 20 po­si­tions.

“It needed a bit of an ef­fort (to get back up). Richie at­tacked, a strong at­tack, but we weren’t too stressed about it. “We knew Sa­gan and some other guys were likely to cover it.

“Cer­tainly it showed he’s in great form and will al­ways look to use his legs to gain some time.” With a lap of the renowned SpaFran­cor­champs mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit in­cluded along the course and the sun out, there was much to en­joy for rid­ers and fans alike.

A six-man break­away was al­lowed around two min­utes for most of the day’s rac­ing and spent their time bat­tling for king of the moun­tain points along the five climbs.

Hav­ing seen his com­pa­triot and Can­non­dale team-mate Tay­lor Phin­ney claim the polka­dot jersey on Sun­day, Amer­i­can Nathan Brown took the nec­es­sary points to keep it in the fam­ily.

For the most part, the pelo­ton and over­all favourites en­joyed a leisurely day in the sad­dle.

But in the fi­nal 60km, three more es­capees joined up with the break­away, whose ad­van­tage was down to one minute, and gave it added im­pe­tus. How­ever, the punch­ers’ teams weren’t pre­pared to give them any lee­way and French­man Lil­ian Calme­jane, the last man stand­ing, was caught with 10km to ride. From then on, it was up to the spe­cial­ist punch­ers and Sa­gan, once again, proved the strong­est.

He also closed in on the green points jersey, still held by Sun­day’s stage two winner Mar­cel Kit­tel of Ger­many, which Sa­gan has won in each of the last five years. — AFP

VERVIERS: Stage winner Slo­vakia’s Peter Sa­gan cel­e­brates on the podium af­ter win­ning at the end of the 212.5 km third stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cy­cling race yes­ter­day be­tween Verviers, Bel­gium and Longwy, France. — AFP

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