Peter Sagan did NOT come second

He’s only the world champion.

If ever a season had a satisfying narrative, it was this year. In 2013, Peter Sagan notched four second places in the Tour de France. In 2014, he got another four. This year, he lost to Andre Greipel (twice), Zdenek Stybar, Ruben Plaza and even Greg Van Avermaet, of all people.

He didn’t win a stage and a month later, he was taken out of the Vuelta a Espana by a motorbike.

It wasn’t his season. Throw in fourth places in Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders and it clearly wasn’t his season. It really, really, really wasn’t his season. I can’t make that clear enough.

Then, out of nowhere, Peter Sagan became the world champion.

How did he win?

He was just faster. I know that’s obvious, but it was just a straightforward, brutal display of power. On the final cobbled climb, he rode faster than anyone else could, got a small gap and quite simply never relinquished it.

On the subsequent descent, he got down onto his crossbar to be a bit more aero, but still carried on pedalling. As the chasers bore down on him in the finishing straight, he changed up a few gears, stood on the pedals and gave it everything. He made the gap and he kept the gap and he won.

What did he have to say afterwards?

When he appeared for the post-race interview, Sagan immediately made an endearingly garbled humanitarian statement that I can only presume was about the refugee crisis.

“Okay, I am very happy for this. I was founding motivation in the world and, er, it’s, er, yeah. I think it’s a big problem also with Europe and all this stuff what’s happening. I want to just say because this was very big motivation for me – like I want to win today and I say this thing.

“Like, er, the population in the world, we have to change, because I think that in the next years it can be all different. And, er, also, I think this competition and all the sport is very nice for the people. And we are motivation for the people. And, er, I am hoping we can do the sport, so, er, next years, and in the future, because the situation is very difficult. Then I want to say that all the people like for change this world.”

There are plenty of sportsmen – and I mean pretty much all of them – who won’t make any kind of statement about anything. Sagan doesn’t really speak English, but he doesn’t give a shit. He wanted to try and say something and so he had a go.

In a weird way, Sagan’s message became a great deal more moving for the fact that he wasn’t entirely coherent. It came across as what it was: something fundamental; an urgent need to express compassion and concern for his fellow man.

Or maybe he was just a bit delirious because he’d receieved a celebratory hand slap off Tom Boonen. That’s almost as cool as becoming world champion. I think I’d lose the ability to speak if I got some sort of ‘five’ off Tommeke.

Did Lizzie Armistead become women’s world champion?

Did she ever.



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