Sagan sinks into the couch
I was thoroughly fucked but I tried to enjoy it afterwards,” Peter Sagan says with a grin as he explains how he felt after winning the Paris-Roubaix classic this month. “When I was younger, it was always my dream to win Paris-Roubaix. I didn’t think about the world championships and [the Tour of] Flanders.”#20
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Sagan is the most popular rider in cycling today and, with the murky uncertainty surrounding Chris Froome and Team Sky, his victory felt like a shaft of light which revealed panache and grit. They call Paris-Roubaix the ‘Hell of the North’, because its 29 cobbled sections have a bone-juddering impact on even the toughest and most brilliant riders. It is also the glittering peak among the five monuments which are cycling’s oldest and most prestigious one-day races.
This year the severity of the challenge was underlined by the death of the young Belgian cyclist Michael Goolaerts, who suffered a cardiac arrest. For just under six hours Sagan was in a battle and his feat was accentuated by the fact he broke for glory a startling 53km from the finish. The Swiss cyclist Silvan Dillier clung to a narrow lead as they entered the velodrome, but Sagan was Cordrea Tankersley Authentic Jersey
imperious in the final 100m.
“Twice I didn’t finish Roubaix,” Sagan says, “and in those races I Omri Casspi Youth jersey
did finish I was in much worse condition than this year. If you’re fighting for first position your emotions are very different. I was not thinking: ‘This is the http://www.officialkingsteamstore.com/Jeff_Carter_Jersey
hell of the north.’ But you realise one, two, three days later how tired you are. Especially the first morning, I was so tired when I woke up from shaking on the cobblestones.”
Sagan sinks into the couch in a Maastricht hotel. We’re a week past Paris-Roubaix and it’s the day before he finishes fourth in the Amstel Gold Race – a 261km ride featuring 35 serious climbs – and the toll is obvious. Yet he is much more involved than he had been in a stilted press conference preceding our interview. As the routine questions from the Dutch press corps arrived slowly, Sagan quipped: “Is this a funeral?”
Here, in a more relaxed setting, it seems appropriate to consider Sagan’s remarkable rise from obscurity in Slovakia to becoming the world’s premier sprint cyclist and star of the peloton. The 28-year-old, who rides for the German team Bora-Hansgrohe, became the first reigning world champion to win Paris-Roubaix since Bernard Hinault in 1981. This second classic, after Sagan won Flanders in 2016, sits alongside other milestones. Last year only a controversial disqualification, after Mark Cavendish fell heavily in a bunch sprint, ended Sagan’s run of five successive Tour de France points victories in the green jersey. He then won a third consecutive world championship in Norway.
After that victory Bradley Wiggins tweeted, of Sagan: “Cycling’s saviour! This man is currently bigger than the sport, look after him. Congrats Peter, a true legend and one of the all-time greats!” This gushing reaction mirrors the online response whenever Sagan pulls a giddy stunt – as in 2015 when he was John Travolta to his wife Katarina’s Olivia Newton-John and they acted out the fairground scene from http://www.officialducksshoponline.com/authentic-17-ryan-kesler-jersey.html
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