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Peter Sagan misses a win, but moves closer to green

AJACCIO, France (VN) — Peter Sagan (Cannondale) may have missed a chance to win a stage in the Tour de France on Sunday, but he gained more points on his rivals for the green jersey.

Sagan finished second to Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) but gained massive points on the likes of André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). They were unable to hang on in the mountainous run through Corsica’s heartland, underscoring Sagan’s strength in the green jersey competition.

“We wanted to keep the stage under control, but those six riders got free in the final kilometer,” Sagan said to VeloNews and other crowding journalists.

“We took them back, all but one. However, it didn’t go bad today in a sense because we did a lot of work before to make sure the sprinters didn’t re-enter.”

Once the race hit the mountains, Cannondale helped lead the charge to put pressure on the pure sprinters. Among those distanced were overnight race leader Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), Cavendish and Greipel. None was able to place in the top 15 and gain points, while Sagan collected 25.

Kittel, at least, was able to keep the green jersey thanks to his 45 points for winning Saturday and two points gained at the intermediate sprint Sunday.

Greipel and Sagan took fifth and sixth at that intermediate sprint, while Cavendish managed only eighth.

If Kittel fails to figure in the final points classification, as many predict, Sagan is already in a good spot. Sitting second with 43 points, he leads over his likely rivals. Greipel sits 12th with 21 points and Cavendish is in 20th with 17.

Greipel had predicted to VeloNews that Sunday would not be “the easiest” and that Cannondale and Sagan would “make us suffer. We have to try to hang on.”

The next likely opportunity for the pure sprinters comes Wednesday in Marseille. In the meantime, Monday’s stage to Calvi suits Sagan and could put him in green as the race heads for the French mainland.

The yellow jersey is another possibility, but it’s of secondary importance, said Sagan.

“I’m thinking of the green jersey. If I get [the yellow jersey], it’ll be an added bonus,” Sagan said.

“It’s more difficult for me because guys are looking at me to see what I’ll do. For me it’s very hard to attack. Anyway, today, I wasn’t feeling very good to attack.”