Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California was a classic finish. Which was a much needed after the madness that was Stage 2.
Stage 2 from Murrieta to the tramway in Palm Springs recorded air temperatures of 111, and as high as 124 on the asphalt. It was a long, 121 mile stage that ended with a brutal 6 kilometer climb for the win that sent (only) 2 riders to the hospital. It was the most brutal sporting event I’ve seen. A much needed degree of normalcy returned on Tuesday, which included the temperatures.
23 year old Peter Sagan was the favorite to win a field sprint, and when the volume from the cow bells and announcer’s peaked to welcome the whole field to the finish, the stage winner was Peter Sagan. His team designed to guide him to the finish crumbled, yet he emerged off a wheel not in green and swung wide for the win.
This was Sagan’s first stage win in the 2013 tour, after he won a record five stages in last year’s tour. His performance indicates he is on another level, and his attitude did too.
When asked about the other sprinters in the race, Sagan didn’t want to seem dismissive. But when he very honestly answered the question, while considering whatever real language barriers that the Slovak does have, he didn’t feel that his sprinting peers in the Tour of California were his sprinting equals. And all great athletes should feel that way.
Sagan is like a diva wide receiver. He is not paying attention to what all the other players are doing, and frankly doesn’t care. He craves attention, feeds off it, and today Peter Sagan’s performance deserved it. And like you would expect, a predominantly American crowd eats up the star power that Sagan brings. Even in a who’s who field in Santa Clarita, in his bright green jersey, matching the much larger than life faces being held up in the crowd, Sagan brings the nearly only star power to the field.
Stage 3 went according to the script. 115 riders start in Palmdale. 110.3 mile stage to Santa Clarita. Field finishes together. Sagan wins. Crowd roars. Reporters take pictures. Podium girls kiss Sagan’s cheeks. But Sagan didn’t grab any.