Code of the Soigneur gets Sagan moving

Paris-Roubaix

The Sunweb man leaps into action

Last week it was a jacket, and a race-ending tumble with Oliver Naesen on the cobbles of Flanders; this week a more routine rear wheel change on the cobbles of northern France. But it was the same familiar sight – Peter Sagan standing on a grass verge waiting for help to arrive, while the race, and his hopes of winning it, disappeared up the road.

That can make for miserable viewing when you’re watching highlights from home and counting on the explosive talents of riders like Sagan not to be disarmed unnecessarily.

Which made it curious to see signs of a similar “wuh?” reflex from unexpected places 30 km from the end of Paris-Roubaix. Seems it might affect soigneurs too. One minute they’re looking out for their man, the next they’re leaping out of the bushes to help a rival, defy the logical claims of a DS, that technically speaking you’re aiding and abetting the enemy.

Perhaps that explains why the Sunweb soigneur flinched a little as he appeared from nowhere to give Sagan a push, wondering for just a split second perhaps whether he should leave the job of pushing Bora riders to, well, members of the Bora team.

The Bora mechanic had got the rear wheel changed in good order, but then found he had precious few hands left over to give Sagan a shove.

Sagan would have coped just fine, but instinct, coupled with a dash of sporting fellowship had gripped the Sunweb man (and a Dimension Data one too for that matter, who was beaten to it), an unbending faith that the race was better with the World Champion in it rather than not.

These are the guys that cut unlikely sporting heroes, dotted along the side of the course, bulging slightly in team shirts usually only sold in aero sizes, but in this case available in XXL. But here at least one became a minor one as he ditched the wheels and bottles he had for his own man, and gave the rainbow jersey a push, for the sake of the viewers at home, and well… maybe himself.

And watching it, you’re kind of glad he did.

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