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Sagan of Slovakia excels at Tour de France

PETER Sagan is only 22 years old but he is drawing a lot of attention in cycling circles as he has won two stages during the ongoing Tour de France and after the fourth stage he held the green jersey. Sagan, nicknamed Tourminator, finished fifth during the fourth stage on July 4, meaning that he extended his lead over the reigning world champion in the points competition with just two more flat sprint stages coming up on July 5 and 6.

Peter Sagan celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the third stage of the Tour de France on July 3, emulating Tom Hanks’ iconic scene as Forrest Gump. (Source: AP/TASR)

PETER Sagan is only 22 years old but he is drawing a lot of attention in cycling circles as he has won two stages during the ongoing Tour de France and after the fourth stage he held the green jersey. Sagan, nicknamed Tourminator, finished fifth during the fourth stage on July 4, meaning that he extended his lead over the reigning world champion in the points competition with just two more flat sprint stages coming up on July 5 and 6.

“I’m happy that I am doing well on the flat stages,” Sagan stated, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “I’ve won two stages and I’ve been collecting points in the points competition for the green jersey, and that is my goal of course. Today [July 4] I finished fifth so I did not lose too many points. I hope that I will not lose points on the road to Paris.”

Sagan added that after a crash of a group of cyclists on July 4 his lead on Mark Cavendish, the reigning world champion, is higher than before but that such high-speed pileups in the final stages are very dangerous and hopes he will not be involved in one.

Sagan became the youngest rider to claim a stage victory since Lance Armstrong did so in 1993, with Sagan’s July 1 first stage uphill sprint win in Seraing, Belgium. Armstrong, winner of the Tour de France seven times is the cyclist to whom Sagan is often compared.

“Obviously, when Lance was young he was very explosive, very strong-looking and robust,'' said former British champion Sean Yates, as quoted by the Associated Press. “I think we can see the same characteristics in Sagan.”

Sagan, a member of the Liquigas-Cannondale team, has won 15 races so far this year, including five of the eight stages in the Tour of California in May.

Running from June 30 to July 22, the 99th Tour de France consists of one prologue and 20 stages and covers a total distance of 3,497 kilometres. The tour is the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three Grand Tours.

Slovak brothers Peter and Martin Velits are also participating in the Tour de France. On July 4, Peter Velits finished 14th and his brother was 74th. Peter Velits ended the third stage in third place.

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