Winning the opening stage in his very first Tour de France, like Peter Sagan did Sunday, is a rare feat that confirms the high hopes race watchers have put in the young Slovak.
Sagan, a 22-year-old rider for Italian squad Liquigas-Cannondale, is the most closely watched of the 33 rookies in this year's Tour after coming into the race with five stage wins in the Tour of California and four in the Tour of Switzerland.
This year's contingent of newcomers is relatively small. Last year, 49 riders rode their first Tour, while the 2010 edition had 61 racers making their debuts.
As Sagan showed with his win over four-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara in Seraing, inexperience in the world's greatest cycling race is not necessarily a handicap to success.
Sagan is the second-youngest of this year's crop of Tour first-timers, and sits highest among them in the general classification.
Thibaut Pinot of French team FDJ-Bigmat is the youngest of the 198 riders who took off in t...