Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was voted most combative and given the red dossard for his fighting spirit
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Slovak second on first stage in Pyrenees
Peter Sagan had long exhausted all superlatives even before the Tour de France began, but the Liquigas-Cannondale rider continued to showcase his apparently limitless repertoire on stage 14, as the race made its entry into the Pyrenees.
Perhaps it was to chase points for the green jersey, or to prepare the ground for a possible attack by Vincenzo Nibali. Maybe it was to win the stage, or maybe it was simply because he could.
Whatever his motives, and in spite of the two first category climbs on the agenda, the 22-year-old Sagan delivered another startling performance when he infiltrated the break of the day after 50 kilometres of racing, and then came closer than anyone anticipated to adding his fourth stage win of this year’s Tour when he finished second behind the canny Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank).
“It was a good day and I was feeling well so I managed to get into the break which was good for picking up points for at the intermediate sprint,” Sagan said afterwards by way of explanation.
When Sagan hoovered up the 20 points on offer in Tarascon-sur-Ariège with the minimum of fuss, his breakaway companions must surely have expected the Slovak to bid them adieu once the Pyrenean pursuits began in earnest on the Port de Lers shortly afterwards.
“I thought that I’d get dropped on the first climb because I wasn’t feeling too good there. I had a moment of crisis,” Sagan admitted, but somewhat improbably, he was still there as the eleven-man group crossed the summit. Perhaps there was something in the Ariège air – at the same time, world champion Mark Cavendish was putting in a stint of pace-making in the Sky-led peloton, 10 minutes further back down the road.
The final climb, the Mur
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