The Best Rider You Don’t Know

At around 4.30pm local time Saturday afternoon, the Twitter parody account Tweeter Sagan came out with “For a year Belgium have no government. In a few minutes they will have at least new ruler”.

As Sagan rolled out of the Liege start gate, the expectation was palpable. Sagan, the Slovakian sensation. The man who beat Spartacus in his own backyard in the Tour de Suisse Prologue. The man who owned the Tour of California. The man who, in cycling terms, is just a boy.

Sagan started the Prologue like a train. Attacking the roads of Liege as though mortally offended by them. But the smooth, sweeping Belgian roads stood their ground. Generally speaking the tougher the circumstances, the better Sagan is. A handful of seconds down at the halfway point and the outside tip of every cycling journo saw yellow slipping away. It was confirmed moments later, as he slipped out of the pedal and went sideways. Most riders would of hit the deck. Not Sagan. The boys a bit special.

He first came to my attention at the 2010 Tour Down Under, duelling with Valverde and Evans on the slopes of Old Wilunga Hill. A 19 year old punk, going toe to toe with two of the sports big names.

By that stage he was already a star of the BMX and Mountainbike scene, skills he shows regular on a regular basis. A teen prodigy who has become one of the deadliest riders in the bunch. The stats are incredible.

2010 – 5 wins

2011 – 12 wins including the national championships and 3 Vuelta stages

2012 – 13 wins and counting, including a second Nationals, dominating the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse, and finishing top 5 in 4 of the classics.

He is a superstar. Not a sprinter but quicker than most. Not a climber but can go uphill. A strong man, a quick man. A winner. His team Liquigas is built for the high country. Sagan works solo.

Sagan is exciting a lot of people. The possibilities are endless for the man from Zilina. Already Aussie bookies have him as Green Jersey Favourite. Olympic Gold is looming too. It seems appropriate to bookend with Twitter. Are we about to see the #summerofsagan?

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