Cycling: The Peter Sagan Bandwagon Starts Here

In the admittedly limited cycle racing so far this year, there has been one rider who has stood out. Not Theo Bos although anyone who beats Cavendish in a bunch sprint gets my respect. Not Jose Rujano despite his win in the Tour de Langkawi on the road to energizing the Giro later in the year. Not even Bobbie Traksel who survived brutal conditions in which only 26 of the 198 starters of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne finished. This man even pipped Arthur Vichot.

This man is the Slovakian 20 year old riding with Liquigas Peter Sagan. A former junior mountain bike world champion who has also won the Slovak junior cyclocross championships, Sagan started his road career with Slovak team Dukla Trencin Merida. In 2010 Sagan has been lighting it up for Liquigas, starting by joining Evans, Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez in the defining move up Willunga hill in the Tour Down Under. That is pretty elite company, but in a race that early in the season he could have just been in better condition than his contemporaries. Still, it established that he can climb hills and gave him a top 5 finish in the Queen stage to go with his 4th place on the punishing stage into Stirling. He managed this despite being involved in a stage 2 crash which left him with 18 stitches and out of contention for the overall.

Sagan has since been showing off his abilities at Paris-Nice, starting with a 5th place in the prologue time trial. This placed him ahead of time-trialling luminaries such as David Millar, Luis Leon Sanchez and Roman Kreuziger. He then found himself near the front in a disrupted sprint in stage 2 and showed he has quite a kick when necessary, being just touched out on the line by William Bonnet. His Paris-Nice form has shown that the TDU was not a fluke and that he can time-trial as well.

He can do everything already (except genuine mountains, but the later stages of Paris-Nice should clear that up) and he only turned 20 this year. Thats 3 years younger than "so hot right now" prodigy Edvald Boasson Hagen. Remember the name Peter Sagan, because in a year's time he will be a serious player.

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