Milan, March 12, 2017 (AFP) – World champion Peter Sagan paid tribute to the victims of the recent earthquakes in central Italy after claiming his second stage win in the Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday.
The fifth stage of the ‘Race of the Two Seas’ was held over 210km between Rieti and Fermo on the Adriatic coast.
And during a “crazy” day in which the Slovakian had teammate Rafal Majka to thank for dragging him back into victory contention, Sagan was saddened by the ruins caused by the earthquakes that struck central Italy in the past six months, killing scores of people and leaving thousands homeless for months.
“I’m very happy with my win today,” said Sagan, who is using the week-long race to prepare for a victory tilt at the Milan-SanRemo one-day classic next weekend.
“It was sad to see some post-earthquake ruins today. During the race, my thoughts went to the victims. I feel sorry for them.”
Bora team rider Sagan, a powerful one-day rider who can sprint with the best in the bunch, had dominated the field to win Friday’s third stage.
And the flamboyant Slovak, known for his garish outfits and performing one-handed ‘wheelies’ when riding up the climbs of some of Europe’s top races, took his second win of the 2017 edition with a defiant, uphill sprint in Fermo that pushed Frenchman Thibaut Pinot into second.
He is now level with retired German star Erik Zabel on seven stage wins from the race, albeit eight behind the leading tally of 15 won by retired Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck.
Had it not been for Majka, Sagan would have watched the podium ceremony from afar.
“Rafal Majka killed himself to make me win. I got back on (to the bunch) only at the last kilometre,” he added.
“If it was a one-day race today, maybe I wouldn’t have been up there. The climbers spent a lot of energy yesterday.
“I, on the other hand, took it easy before the Terminillo (climb). So I was a bit fresher than the overall contenders.
“But it’s been a day of changes of rhythm with attacks at the front of the peloton. I’m exhausted.”
Colombia’s Nairo Quintana, of the Movistar team, retained the race leader’s blue jersey following his summit-finish win on Saturday’s fourth stage, which forced ailing Italian rival Fabio Aru (Astana) to pull out with bronchitis on Sunday morning.
Pinot moved up to second place overall, at 50secs behind, after Britain’s Adam Yates pulled out.
Failing disaster over the closing stages — a sprinter’s stage on Monday and an individual time trial Tuesday — 2015 champion Quintana will claim overall triumph for the second time.
“My team-mates controlled the race with no problem today,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to win the stage, just maintain my advantage over my rivals, which is quite comfortable for now ahead of a hopefully quieter day tomorrow.”
Monday’s sixth stage is over 168km from Ascoli Piceno to Civitanova Marche.
Results from the fifth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, held over 210 km between Rieti and Fermo on Sunday:
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) Bora 5hr 00min 05sec, 2. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) same time, 3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) s.t., 4. Geraint Thomas (GBR) s.t., 5. Bauke Mollema (NED) s.t., 6. Rigoberto Uran (COL) s.t., 7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) s.t., 8. Nairo Quintana (COL) s.t., 9. Rohan Dennis (AUS) s.t., 10. Simon Spilak
1. Nairo Quintana (COL) 21hr 34min 51sec, 2. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) at 50secs, 3. Rohan Dennis (AUS) 1min 06sec,, 4. Primoz Roglic (SLO) 1:15, 5. Tom Dumoulin (NED) 1:19, 6. Geraint Thomas (GBR) 1:23, 7. Rigoberto Uran (COL) 1:30, 8. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) 1:32, 9. Bauke Mollema (NED) 1:37, 10. 10.
Simon Spilak (SLO) 1:59