Peter Sagan is getting really rather annoyed
Matteo Trentin is a rider so anonymous that I’d actually forgotten that he won a stage of the Tour last year, even though I wrote about it at the time. If you watch a lot of cycling, you’ll know his name, but you’d never have him down for the win. He’s one of Mark Cavendish’s faceless lead-out men; a cog in a larger machine.
But now Matteo Trentin has a stage win at the 2014 Tour de France. And Peter Sagan doesn’t.
How does Sagan feel about this?
Going off his general demeanour of late, you’d have to say ‘very, very pissed off’. It’s not so much the lack of win as the fact that he’s been so close, so often. That’s seven top-five finishes out of seven now for the Slovak, including three second places. Having all but sewn up the points competition (barring accidents) Sagan’s looking for wins – and he isn’t getting them.
Yesterday, he went clear over the top of the final climb with Greg Van Avermaet. This was the perfect place to be because Greg Van Avermaet is very much the bridesmaid’s bridesmaid. If you’d be confident beating anyone, it would be Van Avermaet. It isn’t that’s he’s a bad rider. He’s a very good one. It’s just that he always, always finishes either second or fourth.
Sadly for Sagan, the two of them were caught before the finish, but no matter, he was still the best sprinter out of those who were left. The only slight issue was the extra effort he’d put in trying to stay away with Van Avermaet. It had blunted his sprint very slightly, perhaps only enough that he was 10cm slower over a couple of hundred metres, but after losing to Trentin by about 5cm, such things suddenly seem rather important.
If any of you are baffled by the overall leaderboard, things are about to get clearer. The first mountain stage also brings the first summit finish and so the top ten will get a right good sieving such that only genuine contenders remain.
Here’s the profile. It’s also worth noting that we’re in the Vosges Mountains, so things aren’t steady and Alpine. The penultimate climb’s steep and narrow, while the final one seems lifted from the Peak District – 1.8km at 10.3%. Exciting racing between the major contenders is all but guaranteed. Who’s going to have a go at Mr Nibbles?