Ahead of Stage 12 of the Tour de France, Peter Sagan has pled his innocence following his relegation after he leant a shoulder into Wout van Aert during the sprint finish at the end of Stage 11.

Sagan barges Van Aert, Ewan triumphs in stunning sprint finish

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The commissaires adjudged the move to be dangerous, with the Slovakian relegated to 85th on the day. However, ahead of the following day’s stage, Sagan lamented the sanction and added that he was, in fact, attempting to avoid the barriers.

“Well yesterday could have been a good day but in the end it was so-so. I don’t know what to say,” began Sagan.

Peter Sagan on barge controversy: It was not dangerous

On the mechanics of the movement towards Van Aert, Sagan insisted that he had followed his own racing line and only leant left to avoid the barriers.

“I followed my line, I came from the back and I saw a little space there,” added Sagan, before claiming that a protruding part of the barrier had forced him to take an evasive manoeuvre.

The barrier was pretty close but [it] was a brand thing [that caused the movement]; it was pointing out at 90 degrees and if I kept going like that it would have caught my handlebars so I moved a little bit left. I didn’t think it was a dangerous move.

It is a sentiment echoed by Bradley Wiggins in the latest episode of his podcast, where Wiggins dismissed the notion that Sagan was reckless, adding that the mentality of a sprinter is to attack gaps.

“It is what makes a sprinter a sprinter that they go for gaps like that – they do not think: ‘should I go for it? It might be a bit dangerous, what if I get clobbered?’

“People need to understand that sprinters don’t think like that. The reason they are sprinters is not because they are reckless, but they are brilliant bike handlers who are powerful and strong.

Sagan didn’t do anything dangerous. If anything, he used his bodyweight and his head [in a show] of incredible bike handling. It is all a split-second reaction: he is still going for that line because he is a winner.

“He is not reckless or dangerous. He is not like that; he doesn’t need to be like that. He was protecting himself in a way that most people wouldn’t be able to do,” added Wiggins.

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