CALGARY, Alberta (VN) — The finale came down to a bunch sprint through the twisty-turny downtown here, and the way bunch sprints have been contested in North America this year there was little doubt Peter Sagan (Cannondale) would win the final stage at the Tour of Alberta.
It was not only his 21st victory of the season, but yet another did-you-see-that moment for the 23-year-old Slovakian’s highlight reel.
After jostling toward the front on the last lap of four on an 11-turn circuit, Sagan trailed Robert Forster (UnitedHealthcare) entering the final 90-degree left-hander with 200 meters to go. Pulling alongside the muscular German at more than 60 kph as the turn began, Sagan dove to the inside, sliced the corner as if shot from a cannon, and easily pulled away to beat Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Forster to the line.
Sagan intimated afterward that it was simpler than it looked. That depended on your definition of simple.
“I went there without braking,” he said. “Maybe he did a little bit of braking.”
The win was Sagan’s third in the six-day inaugural race. He won the short, 7.3-kilometer prologue by an eye-opening 13 seconds, and a sprint finish in stage 1 comfortably. But his bid to run the week’s table was hampered by successful breakaways on the subsequent three stages and a six-man team (two riders short) that couldn’t run them down.
That wasn’t a problem Sunday. An eight-man breakaway was kept on a short leash by the peloton, never grabbing a lead of more than 1:25 over the 129km course. Three riders — Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge), Jim Stemper (5-Hour Energy), and Adam Farabaugh (Garneau-Quebecor) — led the peloton over the Bow River into the downtown finishing circuits. Stemper crashed while looking back at the peloton with just over a lap remaining and Beppu and Farabaugh were swept up at the line, setting up the final circuit and Sagan’s win.
Counting four wins at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado and two wins in the Amgen Tour of California, Sagan has nine firsts in North America this season as he heads to UCI ProTour races in Quebec (Friday) and Montreal (Sunday) this week.
“Before the Tour de France I spoke to the director sportif of the team and he said I [should] go for preparation to Colorado — I did good training there, one month — and then I did one week here and the average was very fast,” he said.
The two Canadian one-days are each more than 200km long with climbing involved, setting the table for the hilly, 272km road race at the worlds two weeks later in Italy. They fit Sagan, although to be fair, few races don’t these days.
“Now I have good condition,” he said Sunday. “I was preparing here for Quebec and Montreal [which] was the objective for me. And maybe I’ll see [about] the world championships.”