World Champion Peter Sagan came close to a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico yesterday finishing just one second behind stage winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step).
A flat stage punctuated by a climb 60km from the finish, the first road stage of the 51st Tirreno Adriatico was a long day in the saddle for riders, taking in a total of 207km.
A short climb 3km from the end of the stage made it one for the all-rounders rather than the sprinters, with the last few kilometres suiting the more technical riders.
In a stage that began with a breakaway of six riders that held for most of the race, teams concentrated on protecting their leaders for the final push for the line.
As the last few kilometres approached, the attacks came thick and fast Tinkoff took their place at the front with Oscar Gatto joining the push to chase the final breakaway and support Sagan to the finish.
Sagan was disappointed with his finish however. “It’s a shame to come in second again. We did well yesterday and tried hard today. The team was working well and Oscar pushed hard in the last kilometres to close the gap but it was a difficult finish. I did my sprint well and the feeling is good so I can be happy with that.”
However, his Directeur Sportif Lars Michaelsen was more upbeat.
“Peter showed he’s a champ today but it didn’t come off.” said Michaelsen. “Everything went to plan, to wait for the final. The guys were well-positioned and briefed well before the stage.”
“Gatto pushed hard at the end, with the two steep climbs and then the technical section. The guys from us who had the power were there in the finale but we missed Boaro who had to change bike. Stybar surprised everybody with this super strong attack.”
Michaelsen was supportive of his team leader and was looking forward to the coming stages. “We really wanted this win for Oleg and for the team. Peter showed he had the legs and there will be more opportunities.”