Peter Sagan is a very, very vivid shade of grey

If you’re a fairly casual cycling follower, you might struggle to understand what all the fuss is about with Peter Sagan. The key is that cycling is not a black and white sport.

Sagan isn’t the best sprinter and nor is he the best stage racer. He lies somewhere between those two extremes, shining like a very, very vivid shade of grey. Stage seven highlighted his strengths perfectly.

In it to win it

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone use that phrase who isn’t a complete idiot, but that’s the crux of things. Sprinters win races because they’re the fastest at the finish, but that’s of little use if they’re quarter of an hour behind the front of the race. This was the situation three of the four main sprinters found themselves in.

Cavendish, Greipel and Kittel are very fast over a few hundred metres, but they aren’t much good going uphill. Peter Sagan, on the other hand, is quite happy with an incline and so when the road tilted upwards, his Cannondale team found a pace where their leader was okay, but his rivals weren’t. It’s not a complicated ploy and like many simple plans, it worked like a dream.

With the field cleft in twain, Sagan had little competition in a sprint finish other than John Degenkolb, who’s a kind of supermarket own brand Sagan, only with better facial hair.

Points update

Sagan picked up 45 points for the stage win and 20 points for the intermediate sprint, while his rivals picked up precisely ball-all between them. The green jersey competition now looks like this.

  1. Peter Sagan – 224
  2. André Greipel – 130
  3. Mark Cavendish – 119

After a heavy weekend, next week is fairly sprint heavy, so there are points available. The problem for Sagan’s rivals is that he always gets at least a few points, so they can’t gain ground quickly unless he crashes. This win followed three seconds and a third.

Mountains update

Blel Kadri nicked the jersey off Pierre Rolland after heading out in the break. Hopefully Kadri will steer clear of the polka dot shorts favoured by Rolland.

Yellow jersey news

Apparently Simon Gerrans willingly sacrificed the race lead on stage six so that Daryl Impey could wear yellow. Jolly decent of him.

The general classification news from stage seven was that Tommy Voeckler fell out of the running. Always a bit of an outsider, his chances are now gone. He was hanging out with the sprinters when Cannondale raised the pace and got caught in the wrong group. The good news is that the peloton will let him get into breaks now, which is pretty much the whole point of Tommy Voeckler anyway.

Stage eight

Forget about the points competition, the inhuman stuff is finally here. It’s the first of the stages I highlighted in my Tour preview. 15.3km at 8% is almost immediately followed by 7.8km at 8.2% with a summit finish.

All those names you don’t recognise on the leaderboard? They will DISAPPEAR. Here’s the profile.