Thrills and spills as Peter Sagan avoids crash to take sprint second on Tour of Slovakia stage 2
Heading west from Spišské Podhradie, the profile of stage 2 of the Tour of Slovakia was dominated by one climb. While the 179.7km parcours featured three climbs, it was the first category Štrbské Pleso that would weigh heavily on the riders’ minds and even more heavily in their legs. With rain falling on the course, it was a lacklustre start to the day as the first attempt to break away was quickly caught, before five riders managed to create some distance, building a lead of 2:30 after just 25km. The peloton was happy for this group to go ahead, their lead hitting 4:20 at its peak before falling by a minute as the climbing started. The peloton was clearly the stronger of the two groups, as the time gap shrank even further, before the catch was made with 31km remaining. It was here that BORA-hangrohe’s rivals started to police the front of the peloton to stop another attack, but with some local knowledge from the Slovak national champion, Peter Sagan attacked on the final climb and created his own select group that went off the front with 14.5km to go. While this group wasn’t able to last until the end due to a lack of collaboration, it showed Peter’s ambition, and with Daniel Oss and Maciej Bodnar leading the peloton, he was delivered to the head of the race for the predicted bunch sprint. A crash on the final corner shook things up, leaving just Peter and one other to contest the win, but in the chaos a gap opened up that proved impossible for him to close, Peter taking second place in a thrilling finale. With the whole team finishing safely, the new GC standings saw two BORA-hansgrohe riders in the overall top ten, with Peter in third and Maciej Bodnar in eighth.
01 J.Steimle 4h18’30”
02 P.Sagan + 0:00
03 A.Hodeg + 0:00
From the Finish Line
"Our goal today was to distance the yellow jersey in the last climb. This is what I did and I managed to get ahead with Steimle. I knew that the final descent was very dangerous and that I had to be careful. I wanted to increase our distance from Hodeg while Steimle wanted to maintain their yellow jersey, so he didn't collaborate. A smaller group, with Daniel Oss in it, bridged to us and Daniel did all he could to pull in front and avoid being caught by the peloton. In the end, it was going to be a bunch sprint. I was aware the last curve was tricky, so I didn't want to risk too much. Steimle risked more, found himself 4-5 metres ahead of me but it wasn't possible to overtake him in the remaining 100 metres to the finish line." – Peter Sagan
"It was a tricky stage today, rainy in the first part and a bit drier in the finale but quite cold. We let the break go away and then it was mainly up to the yellow jersey's team to control the race. We were ready for the finale and in the last climb, Peter attacked. He managed to build a small gap in the tricky descent where there were a few crashes and together with Steimle they were ahead of the peloton. In the end, the main bunch caught them and everything was pointing to a sprint finish. In the last turn, Peter didn't want to take too many risks, he slowed down and lost a few metres to Steimle. It was impossible to recover them in the final stretch and finished second." – Jan Valach, Sports Director