Peter Sagan (Bora–Hansgrohe) should be free to continue with his cavalier style after bumping and barging his way into position at the Giro d’Italia, Eurosport expert Bradley Wiggins has said.
The Slovakian was spotted moving other riders out of his path so he could latch onto the back wheel of teammate Daniel Oss as he geared up for the final sprint on Stage 2.
Sagan, who was not penalised for his moves, finished fifth as Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won on his Grand Tour debut.
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The 31-year-old, who won a stage at last year’s race, is one of the favourites for the maglia ciclamino.
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“Part and parcel of being a good bike rider is the way you handle yourself, the way you can handle your bike at those speeds,” Wiggins said on The Breakaway on Eurosport.
If it was easy, everyone would be taking part in the sprints.
“Obviously what we don’t like seeing are the crashes that come with it and, sometimes, the repercussions of those crashes.
“I would change the race course and not the riders. They’re going to race like that. It’s like a boxing match – you know two guys are going to try and kill each other.
“You set the environment around it to give them [the riders] the safest thing.”
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Wiggins said he was surprised at the finish on Stage 2, which arrived shortly after a long bend.
“Obviously the chicanes in the final [sprint] were quite dangerous, quite narrow, a sweeping bend at the finish," he continued.
“Much like we’ve talked a lot about at the Tour of Poland last year, it’s not the riders you need to change, it’s the environment and the races you need to change. Give them a straight line run into the finish, no downhill stretches and things like that."
Fellow expert Brian Smith agreed that Sagan’s style made races exciting, but questioned whether he was being too aggressive.
“You could say he’s got the right to follow that wheel, but he does it rather aggressively,” he said.
“It was two riders he just shoved out the way. It’s like ‘that’s my wheel and nothing’s going to stop me’.
“It’s the way he rides. He tries to bully people through gaps and things like that. You can’t do that.
“I love watching that, it’s really entertaining. But nowadays the UCI are trying to put a stop on all this sort of stuff: shoulder barging, headbutting…”
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Sagan was also part of a quartet of riders who accidentally sat up before an immediate sprint on Stage 2 – mistaking a 40km to go banner for their mark.
He is fifth in the race for the maglia ciclamino after the opening weekend on 17 points, 33 behind early frontrunner Merlier.
"The stage was quite straightforward and it played out the way we were expecting, with a fast sprint finish," Sagan said on his website.
"Up to the last kilometers, it was easy but in the finale, you had to be really focused as it could be messy. It was important to stay safe and avoid any crashes."
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