Tag Archives: Sagan’s Spring

Sagan’s Spring, episode 4: The humble, sincere apology

Following ‘pinch-gate’ on Sunday’s podium at the Tour of Flanders, Peter Sagan has felt the wrath of the high and mighty from all circles of social media. As a result the Slovakian was quick to take to his own Twitter account to apologise to anyone offended.

“Was not my intention to disrespect women today on the podium. Just a joke, sorry if someone was disturbed about it,” he said @petosagan. Still, given the apparent seriousness of the crime in the minds of some Sagan followed that apology up with a video posted to his Facebook page in which he stared down the barrel of a camera phone and issued his heart-felt remorse.

“Dear Maya, women and fans, I know I have no excuse. here again my sincere apology…”

The video itself is a classic that may or may not have any relevance to the date in which it was posted: April 1st, but the only thing missing from it was a violin playing in the background. Either that or, given the look on his face, Arabic writing on the wall behind him and two masked men either side of him wielding AK-47’s. “They’re treating me well and say I will be released once all you infidels apologise for ever having wanted to touch the bottom of a podium girl.”

Seriously though, I just hope that’s the last we hear of this whole mind numbing story about nothing. (And there was me thinking the doping subject was robbing us of a focus on the actual racing!)

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Sagan’s Spring, episode 3: Sagan grabs onto more than he bargained foras scramble for position on the moral high ground ensues

To read some cycling news outlets this past few days you’d be forgiven for not knowing who won the Tour of Flanders yesterday depending on how a certain image was cropped. Had it cut out the man on the top step and shown only second place man Peter Sagan with his hand reaching out to the bottom of a podium girl, you’d never have known the winner was Fabian Cancellara. Yep, seriously, the brief act of foolishness by Sagan on yesterday’s podium — immature fun as opposed to the sex scandal you’re probably led to believe it was — has sadly taken the attention away from the race itself. And pinch-gate aside, that is Sagan’s biggest crime, for the race itself produced an epic escape by Cancellara to take the win.

When moments like this happen I can’t help but laugh at the sudden scramble for a position on the moral high ground as the finger pointing begins. Did Sagan go over the top? Probably … in fact, of course he did. He shouldn’t have done it and maybe he should be told off even if he did send out a Tweet shortly after to apologise, but he’s a young man who was trying to be funny with no evil intentions. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.

Yet reading some sensationalist comments on various media outlets by cycling fans and scandal-seekers alike, I find myself having to look at the image once again just to remind myself that this whole hoopla is over a pinch to someones rear and not worse. Had the podium girl pinched him in the rear, would the same pitchfork and torch wielding army of the easily-offended be out in force, shocked and dismayed for the treatment of Sagan and his poor arse? If your answer to that is yes then you’re a liar, if your honest answer is no then you’re a hypocrite.

It’s left people questioning the roll of the podium girl at all in the twenty first century, but the last time I checked no podium girl was ever forced into the job. They apply freely and resign when they choose. From what I’ve heard in the past there is a great demand for a position on the podium girls tour and some will use it as a chance to get out and see the world while travelling with the professional cycling cavalcade and getting paid for their work. Work that goes beyond podium appearances as they also travel along the route on the ‘caravan’ that proceeds ahead of a race.

This girl will have dealt with worse in this kind of environment and she’ll be strong enough in such a profession to rise above it. Let’s not insult her as a woman — as those who are kicking up the biggest stink in this whole ‘scandal’ are doing — by thinking she hasn’t the where with all to brush off a little boy like Peter Sagan.

Peter Sagan is a 23 year old man-child. A supreme athlete who has had little else in his young adult life aside from riding bikes, winning races, entertaining us with his celebrations, and it’s unlikely he carries the same politically correct savvy of those currently distressed by the sight of such an image on the Internet. And that’s the bottom line.

He’ll live and learn and we’ll all move on, forgetting it by the time he wheelies over the line for another victory. As the saying goes, today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s chip wrapper.

Sagan’s Spring, episode 2: Sagan put in his place by the powerful vet

The Tour of Flanders was a reminder if ever there was one that at 23, Peter Sagan still has some dues to pay. It was the old vet, Fabian Cancellara, who reminded everyone as to how it was done with a display of power that nobody could match.

He moved to the front on one of the late climbs of the day and only Sagan could go with him. By the final climb not even Sagan’s raw strength could match that of the Swissman and he rode off alone with 13 kilometers to go to win the historic classic by a staggering 1-27. To open that gap in such a short distance proved how above and beyond the rest Cancellara was. To put it in perspective, Cancellara covered that final 13 kilometers at a mind blowing 49.524 km/h.

Sagan, of course, was the next best in — it would seem that if it isn’t the win, it’s second for him — and that shouldn’t be scoffed at. On top of his seven wins this season, the 23 year old Sagan now has a second place in both the Milan – San Remo and the Tour of Flanders to go with his 4th and 5th place finishes in the same two races respectively, last year.

From here they’ll all make their way to the start line of the Paris-Roubaix this coming Sunday where Cancellara will have taken the roll of pre-race favorite. Paris-Roubaix is such a lottery at times that it’s hard to know who will come out on top, but mechanical issues aside, you can almost guarantee that come the thick of the action both Cancellara and Sagan will be in the mix again as the young man looks to get one over the veteran once again and the veteran looks to remind the rest that he’s still the master.

It’s sure to be epic.

Sagan’s Spring, episode 1: Sagan primed for greatness

If the talent of Peter Sagan wasn’t fully understood before this past couple of weeks, then worry no more. The way the young 23-year old Slovakian cyclist has ripped up the early part of the season has been nothing short of astonishing, leaving the likes of Mark Cavendish to refer to him as a “machine” and others to draw comparisons to the great Eddy Merckx.

That might be getting ahead of ourselves somewhat, though maybe not as much as you might think and it’s something I’ll look into further in a future article. Suffice to say though he’s the finest young talent in cycling today and despite being beaten into second in both Monument Classics so far, it’s the style in which he’s tried to win and how he’s featured in every big race he’s been involved in that’s made him the man of Spring thus far.

At 23 the future sure is bright and Fabian Cancellara aside, he might well be the most feared man in the professional peloton right now. Gerald Ciolek pipping him to the line at the Milan – San Remo a few weeks ago may hint at slight tactical naivety, but even in that loss he showed how good he can be. He attacked on the final climb — The Poggio — and descended away from the field bringing with him just a small selection of riders. The rest made him do the bulk of the work and took turns trying to attack him, letting him bring it back together each time. In the sprint in which he should have been favorite, he was forced to start it earlier than he might otherwise have done, and it cost him on the line.

But he’ll learn from it.

Indeed, at Gent-Wevelgem he got across to the leading break and rather than let them follow his wheel and try attack him ahead of a sprint he was favourite to win, he decided to attack them first, leaving them all for dead with 4km to go, riding alone to a victory that seen him wheelie over the line.

It’s that expression of love for riding the bike as seen in his aggressive style, not to mention his endless collection of entertaining celebrations when he wins, that endears him to cycling fans. In an era in which many athletes across the broad spectrum of sports are too well PR trained, too well paid to the point that the money can become their focus, and too far above the fans to give them the time of day, young Sagan looks like someone naively in love with the sport who enjoys entertaining us. Long may that playful innocence continue and to hell with the pompous few who feel offended by it.

Two days later Sagan was back on his bike in the Tour de Panne, a race he was calling — to the dismay of his rivals, I’d imagine — a “training ride” for the Tour of Flanders. That is, you see, if training rides result in you beating up on your opponents once again? He went on the attack with 20 kilometers to go on the final climb and then won the sprint from a small group of ten that he had dragged clear. A day later he sat up allowing the leaders jersey to pass onto the shoulders of Arnaud Demare as Mark Cavendish took the bunch gallop meaning he could withdraw from the race without doing so as race leader. Alexander Kristoff and Sylvain Chavanel went on to win the split stages on day three with Chavanel taking the overall.

We were heading into the final day of March and Sagan had already notched up seven wins on the season. He was the man to beat for Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, that much was certain.