"What is pressure?" joked Sagan in response to a question after the race. "I don't feel it as a burden".
"We had both options to play and the best solution not to lose time".
"It showed that he's in great form and will always look to use his legs to gain some time", Thomas said.
- Sylvain Chavanel will participate in his 17th Tour de France in 2017, equalling George Hincapie, Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voigt for most entries into the race. "It's hard for me now here to say".
Last year after winning a stage, Sagan bitterly complained about GC riders "getting in the way" during the mass sprints.
"I think it's going to create less stress, and there will be less victims", said Trek-Segafredo sport director Stephen De Jongh. He almost quit the sport entirely three years ago as the No. 1 recruit in the nation. "I am very happy for this victory".
Van Avermaet slipped to fourth on the stage.
Although his form in 2017 - victories in the Town Down Under and Tour de Romandie, plus second in the Dauphine - shows the legs are there, the battle might be mental for Porte.
A crash a little over 30 kilometres from the end of Sunday's 203.5km stage two from Dusseldorf to Liege threatened to upend Sky's brilliant start to the Tour as Thomas and Froome hit the deck along with Luke Rowe, Christian Knees and Michal Kwiatkowski. Porte, who used to be a teammate of Froome's at Sky before switching to BMC, impressed with his attack.
The pack of riders stretched like a piece of string into single file on the fast, winding downhill into Longwy before the final climb on Nuns' Hill that seemed tailor-made for the strengths of the Slovakian Sagan, the world champion.
This, by the way, is the finishing line. However, Geraint Thomas still has the yellow jersey. The UCI and race organizers have been working behind the scenes to try to enhance safety at all races, with new efforts in extreme-weather protocol, vehicle safety, and even the suggestion of reducing the size of the peloton. It seemed, after Olympic bids from Hamburg and Munich, the German public had lost its appetite for hosting sporting events. "Today was just one of those things where there's nowhere to go".
Co-operation and application was in short supply for the six escapees and the gap was rapidly reduced down as the riders approached the French border. In every city, every village, people stood several rows deep to catch a glimpse of the peloton.
Other gradients of note are 16-percent slopes to the Peyragudes ski station and 18-percent stretches on the Mur de Peguere, both in the Pyrenees, and a 14-percent section on the Col de Peyra Taillade, on stage 15 in the Massif Central. As the best riders in the world start their 2,220 miles around France, they will do so in some of the warmest conditions of the year. "The day needs to be perfect to beat Sagan".
"Maybe everyone thinks that it was an advantage that Sagan unclipped but because of that I moved to the side and out of his slipstream and then I suffered in the wind!"