Peter Sagan’s 2015 season has been a masterclass of near misses, impressive second places, and unfulfilled expectations. Sure, he won the points jersey at the Tour de France for the fourth year running, but his five runner-up placings overshadowed his versatility. Back in the Spring, when he failed to deliver the first monument in his career again, Oleg Tinkov publicly talked about cutting his salary.
There was the failed bike change at Paris Roubaix, a motorcycle crashing him out of the Vuelta a España, and the exacerbation of a trend that’s plagued him over the course of his career; nobody will work with him. Sagan has the burden of being the strongest, most versatile rider in the peloton. He can keep pace on climbs unlike any sprinter, and he packs one of the fastest finishes in the world. But being strongest only means you get no help, and nobody can win alone.
Well, usually nobody can win alone. Sagan was the only Slovakian rider to even finish the race today, but he played his cards perfectly and won his first ever Monument. He let Zdenek Stybar and Greg Van Avarmaet lead the way up cobbled Libby Hill, then ripped away on the descent. The charging peloton couldn’t catch him on the final climb and he rolled in three easy seconds ahead of the pack.
He ground a huge gear during his escape, and for a while it looked like he was pedaling squares, but even with Rigoberto Uran leading him out, Michael Matthews wasn’t ever close to catching Sagan’s wheel. Sagan became the first Slovakian to win Worlds, and perhaps more importantly, gets to wear that rainbow jersey for a year.
Photo via Getty