Peter Sagan’s come a long way

Winning the Tour of Poland today marks Peter Sagan’s first stage race win at “World Tour” level. It wasn’t long ago when he was riding around town on his mountain bike.

But he started with a bang. The Tour Down Under was his first pro road race on the stage up Willunga Hill he made the break with Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong and Alejandro Valverde, despite several stitches from a crash. If he’s come a long way, he’s probably going to go far too.

19 thoughts on “Peter Sagan’s come a long way”

  1. Inner Ring: I don’t know much about him as a rider yet, but really impressed. Also a bit puzzled. He seems like he’s very much in the Philippe Gilbert mold, but maybe even better in bunch sprints on the flat, and maybe also even better on hills. That seems to harken back to a style of rider we haven’t really seen for decades. Thought it was no longer possible to do it all. If you know more about his palmares, it would be great to have a recap.

  2. Peter was a prodigy from the moment he first rode his bike. He is an incredible all-rounder with a background in mountain bikes, cyclocross, road cycling and downhill. He was junior world champion in cross country in 2008, 2nd in the junior cyclocross world championships and 2nd in junior Paris-Roubaix the same year. He signed with Liquigas in 2010 and immediately won two stages in Paris – Nice, two in Tour of California and one in tour of Romandy. He is incredible in short uphill finishes (like Gilbert), very good in flat sprints (like young Hushovd), can survive mountains (like Hushovd these days), very good in short prologues and very good in downhills (better than Nibali).

  3. Liquigas didn’t take him to the tour this year which was a shame as I think he would have been a strong contender for the green jersey. One of the most talented riders in the peleton in my opinion.

  4. I think the first pro rider to comment on him was Lance Armstrong.
    He was very impressed by his performance in a february race in his first year.
    I remember that because it was unusual for LA to offer this kind of comment.

  5. Amazing guy! What a win in Poland. I hope he will shine in the Vuelta too.
    He’s probably as close to a Merckx like ‘good in everything’ as possible nowadays.

  6. Thanks for all that additional info. I’m on a steep learning curve these days. Lots of exciting new young riders coming along right now. Terrible shame if the sport has to suffer a “contraction” in the near future. We are just now coming out of a long dark tunnel………

  7. Sagan keeps showing increasing promise. But this race had no high mountain. It remains to be seen how he can cope with a succession of big climbs.

  8. Yes, Peter’s obvious weakness are the big climbs. And the long time trials. As much as I believe he can improve in racing against the clock, I think he is never going to be competitive on the long climbs. That’s why I think he’ll never be up there in the top ten in the grand tours. But I think he will be one of the most dominant figures in the classics, one week races, multiple stages and green jerseys in grand tours.

  9. He doesn’t have to be a stage racer to be great, does he? It’s understandable that people will always speculate about potential TdF winners, but ultimately in today’s “cleaner” age there is one crucial skill that sets one’s limits in stage races to the exclusion of almost all others: the ability to climb mountains. If you don’t have the body for it, you aren’t going to win. Even an “all-rounder” like Evans is, plainly, brilliant at climbing.

    So a guy like Sagan is probably better-served to be good at a lot of other things. There are smaller stage races, classics, green jerseys, first-week yellow jerseys, and world championships to be won. If he scrapped it all to go for France in July, would he win? Could he beat Schleck and Contador, or even Gesink? The best he could hope for would probably be a ceiling of “good stage racer.” Maybe, at best, another Denis Menchov.

    Serious question: In ten years, who will we remember as a better rider in this era? Denis Menchov, with 3 GT victories against mediocre (or caught-doping) opposition? Or someone like Gilbert, Cancellara, or Boonen, men of many talents, Rainbow stripes, Monument wins, and non-GC success at the TdF. Interesting question.

  10. @Duluth Baptist Clydesdale
    You are so right.
    Rik Van loy or Rick van Steenbergen are still in our mind and the never won a Tour.

    And the Tours can be more or less a climbing thing.
    After all, Francesco Moser won the Giro and he could not climb an overpass even to save his life…
    Of course, the organisers made a “suitable” parcours from him.
    Like Cancellara winning the Tour de Suisse.

    If UCI can impose a bike weight, they could also impose a maximum number of climbing meter per day and per Tour… So the climbers could have their wings chopped a bit.

    Same thing for the TT.
    Less TT and Indurain woud have a different score sheet.

    Just like the Green jersey race was deeply modified this year with the bonus modifications.

    That is one of the thing about cycling.
    Organisers can modify the parcours AND the rules to create a context that they like.
    Imagine if football goals could only be headers.

    Could your description of Sagan ressemble the profil of the young, pre-cancer, Lance Armstrong?

  11. Let’s get one thing straight, Sagan is never going to win the Tour de France. To a lot of fans and sponsors that is the only thing that matters, and shame on them for that. Sagan could win almost anything on the calendar, but at 184 cm and 73 kg (from wikipedia) and with no history on long sustained climbs or putting out FTP efforts at altitude the grand tours do not suit his natural abilities. He would have to lose around 5 kilograms, maybe more, which would almost certainly hurt his sprint and his already mediocre time trial ability and change his training to focus on a completely different power profile. He could be one of the greatest classics riders of his generation or even an all time great like Kelly (minus the grand tour GC results) or de Vlaeminck, why would he want to sacrifice that to finish 9th in the Tour or 5th in the Vuelta?

    @ Luc Prévost
    Yes, the race organizers of the Giro in the 80s definitely tailored the parcours to suit certain riders, particularly if they were wearing the arc en ciel and Italian. Some of the things they did to prevent Fignon from winning, like cancelling climbs at the last minute and altering stages because of “safety reasons” were blatantly unfair and nationalistic. But you forget that Saronni and Moser got such special treatment because they were Italian. Cancellara is Swiss. Slovakia does not have a grand tour or even a World Tour level stage race. Sagan currently rides on an Italian team with several Italian GC riders but few classics leaders. Besides, Moser, Cancellara and Indurain (and Evans and Menchov to a lesser extent) were all world class time trialists, which Sagan is simply not. When your own brother and teammate says that your “obvious weakness are the big climbs. And the long time trials”, you probably aren’t going to compete in a grand tour no matter how few big mountain climbs or how many bonus seconds there are.

  12. “Serious question: In ten years, who will we remember as a better rider in this era? Denis Menchov, with 3 GT victories against mediocre (or caught-doping) opposition? Or someone like Gilbert, Cancellara, or Boonen, men of many talents, Rainbow stripes, Monument wins, and non-GC success at the TdF. Interesting question.”

    The later in my opinion………

    Sagan…. legend in the making….. Very exciting rider…..

  13. Sagan has been amazingly entertaining from his first pro season. I agree, it’s a pity he wasn’t in the TdF this year, he must be ready for a stage win at least.

  14. @Steve
    Like you I think he had a chance to win some stages at TdF but maybe he would have destroyed himself in the process. Some people have to be slowed down… Maybe he is that type of person. Of course the danger is not in producing 500 watts for 2 minutes but more like trying to stay with the climbers days after days. Ego is a major part of any winner’s profil.

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