Who’s Peter Sagan?

In with the in crowd: Sagan leads Evans, Valverde and Sanchez

The Slovak, from Žilina near the Tatra mountains that mark the Slovak-Polish border, finished second in today’s stage of Paris-Nice. So far this season he’s made a name for himself with some results and impressive riding, the first occasion being in the “Cancer Classic” crit before the the Tour Down Under, where he escaped with Lance Armstrong and others.

Days later in the Aussie stage race he had several placings including a fourth and fifth place and was part of THE break with Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde and eventual stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez (pictured above). All three riders complained that Sagan had made their legs hurt. But it was Sagan who had the most pain, he’d crashed before and needed 18 stitches to close the wounds in his legs.

Cyclingnews.com wrote he was in his second year as a pro but he’s really a neopro, he only joined Liquigas at the end of last year. Born in 1990, the Slovakian rider has a successful past… off road. He’s been world junior MTB champion and a silver medallist with the juniors in the cyclocross worlds too.

On the road last year he took stages in Poland’s Mazovia Tour – see the video above – against professional riders. In 2008 during the junior Paris-Roubaix Sagan attacked 80km from the finish, had a rider bridge across, dropped him and then stayed clear until he was caught close to the finish by a small chasing group, only to have the energy to claim second place behind British rider Andrew Fenn.

Sometimes an impressive past can be a burden, riders can fail to progress when they turn pro but Sagan doesn’t seem to have any limits so far. One to watch.

EDIT: for more on Sagan, click here.