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by Shane Stokes
January 20, 2018
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URAIDLA, Australia (CT) – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) might have bigger targets later in the season but today, on stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under, the world champion showed he’s a force to be reckoned with at any time of year.
As temperatures soared to 42ºC in the Adelaide Hills, Sagan clung to an elite lead group that emerged at the top of the final climb of the day, 8km from the finish. Four-time Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans (BMC) had set a stifling tempo on the front of the bunch, shelling all but roughly 30 riders, but Sagan was able to hold on and set up a thoroughly impressive victory.
The lead group fractured and reformed in the undulating run-in to the finish as several riders attacked and were subsequently caught. In the end it was a 35-strong bunch that reformed in the closing kilometres into Uraidla, before Sagan outgunned Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) to take his first career stage win at the Tour Down Under.
“I’m very happy and it’s very great for us, for our team,” Sagan said afterwards. “My teammates did a very great job during the whole day. It was very hot weather and it was very hard to concentrate in the race and the feeling was a little bit different.
“I think in the last climb it was not about legs any more — it was more about suffering in the heat and cooling down with cold water.” Sagan admitted after the stage that he’d surprised himself by being able to stay with the leaders over the final ascent. “A little bit yes, because I didn’t expect I could climb like that in this period [of the season],” he said.
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