Top Banana: Tour de France stage 3 – Juraj Sagan

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So often overshadowed by his younger brother, or cropped out of shot altogether, Juraj Sagan deserves more than a little of the limelight for today’s effort

Photographs: Presse Sports / Offside

Before today, who among us could have correctly drawn (and coloured in) the Slovakian flag from memory?

 

Be honest. Sure, you “might” have managed it in the end, but only after being told that, no, it doesn’t have stars and a mountain on its crest (that’s Slovenia), or a blue isosceles triangle (Czech Republic) or green and red stripes (Lithuania and, frankly, they’re not even close to each other).

 

On Monday however, even if you managed to watch a mere five of the six hours of televised racing, you can’t have failed to catch the national champion’s stripes of Slovakia, wrapped around the chest of the older Sagan brother.

 

In fact, Juraj spent so long at the front of the peloton and in the centre of our picture that you’d have been forgiven for thinking he’d been thrown a few quid by the national tourist board. I, for one, am now considering a post-Tour mini-break to… *creaks opens atlas*… Bratislava or… Košice!

 

In truth Sagan (J)’s job amounted to a whole lot more than that of patriotic product placement. The final two kilometres of the stage might have been a tap in for Peter, but he still had to arrive there in one piece to get his toe to it.

 

Whilst many had other ideas, that was far from a foregone conclusion, but by seldom straying far from Juraj’s hardworking wheel, the world champion could be confident of being in the right place at the time.

 

And if hardworking sounds a bit disingenuous, or condescending, take a look at the results, and scroll down. Right down. 192nd on the stage, and somehow over twelve minutes down. Well done, Juraj, that was one hell of a shift.

 

The Rouleur Top Banana goes to an unsung hero of each stage of the Tour de France – not the winner, not the yellow jersey – but a rider whose efforts deserve recognition

 

Stage 1 – Taylor Phinney

 

Stage 2 – Tony Gallopin