Well, it could have worked out better.
While Peter Sagan came up short in his first day of racing in 2022, neither he nor his TotalEnergies team appeared much concerned. Sagan’s transfer to the modest French team was, of course, one of the most-watched moves coming into the current season. And the team has been racing at another level since the beginning of the season.
Arriving at Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var on Thursday evening, the mood was high within the team and Sagan was relaxed, chatting easily with a journalist from the French sports daily, L’Equipe, and joking with his teammates.
“The way this team has come together so quickly is already a victory,” longtime manager Jean-René Bernaudeau said in the team truck as mechanics finished building up the team bikes.
And Sagan was typically relaxed.
“Nervous. Why Nervous?” he said to the reporter and showed little sign of stress as he rode in the team bus towards the start of the Mediterranean town of Saint Raphaël before stage one.
But as soon as he stepped off the bus, reporters were waiting. “On paper, this is a sprint stage, a good day for you?” asked one. But Sagan was playing it cool as usual and offered only his patented “We will see,” response.
In the end, the opening stage of this three-day race came down to a sprint, and Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan stormed to victory. Sagan, however, came up short as he cracked on the final climb around the rugged Côte d’Azur.
But while he suffered plenty as he tried to remain in contact with the front group, Sagan just came off of a three-week training camp in the Canary Islands. And he knows that nothing replaces time racing like racing.
Sagan chatted easily with a journalist on the eve of his first race in 2022.
Sagan’s mechanic prepares his custom S-Works Tarmac in the Total Energies team truck.
Sagan reviewed road book with teammate Daniel Oss as the team bus rolled towards the start.
Team meeting time.
Down the stairs he went. Lights… camera… action!
The peloton rolled along the unmatchable Côte d’Azur in the early kilometers of the race.
Lotto Soudal kept the pace under control for their star sprinter Caleb Ewan, who paid them off with a strong victory at the end of the day.
The TotalEnergies team rode consistently at the front as well.
Sagan’s longtime friend and teammate Danial Oss was never far from his leader. And, generally, with a smile.
Coming off on the final climb of the day, Sagan was only just finding his race rhythm.
The field splintered on the sinuous climb, and Sagan had to dig deep.
Cruising past the finish line, his first day of racing with his new team was officially over.
Although he came up short, Sagan couldn’t have been happier to see his new French teammate Anthony Turgis come away with second place. And he was quick to congratulate Turgis before getting back on the team bus.