Michael Matthews conserves his power – Peter Sagan doesn’t
What an odd stage. The hill near the end suggested that we might have the likes of Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews, Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Greg Van Avermaet contesting a bunch sprint rather than the out-and-out sprinters. In the end, all four got in the day’s break, which made for some intriguing racing. Maybe they should front load the mountains more often.
Peter Sagan can, at times, seem drunk on his own ability. Like a slightly giddy Superman, he apparently spent most of the stage thinking: ‘Wow, look what I can do. I wonder what else I can do.’
As an exploration of his limits, it was excellent. He eventually discovered that if he attacks from the off, attacks regularly throughout the stage and drags everyone along in between each of those attacks, eventually he’ll feel slightly tired.
So as impressive as his ride was, he could barely have ridden less efficiently. Michael Matthews, in contrast, appeared to have the Slovak affixed to the front of his bike so keenly did he draft him. It is easier to cycle behind someone else. Matthews was fresher at the finish.
Sagan did however reclaim the green jersey from Mark Cavendish. It could make the return journey depending how today goes. Poor jersey. Doesn’t know where it belongs.
Pretty standard sprint day.
Delicacies of this region include fréginat, a sort of boar, duck fat and beans cassoulet-type thing, and Tielle de Sète, described as “small pie garnished with squid and tomato”.