Freire says his fellow three-time world champion faces easier competition

Peter Sagan‘s dominance of many races is down to the low standard of riders in the current professional peloton, according to three-time world champion Oscar Freire.

Freire, who also won Milan-San Remo and the points classification at the Tour de France in a professional career that stretched from 1998 to 2012, said that the number of wins that Sagan is able to take would not have been possible in the past when he would have faced stiffer opposition.

“Today, Sagan starts every race as the favourite,” the former Quick-Step, Rabobank, and Katusha rider told Sporza.

“Sagan can sprint well and climbs best of all sprinters. If the parcours are not too mountainous he is the best of all the riders.

“But he has not got as many rivals in the World Championships and other race, something that was unthinkable six or eight years ago.”

>>> Peter Sagan says fourth consecutive world title ‘not impossible’ despite mountainous 2018 course

Freire is one of five riders to have won the World Championships road race on three occasions – along with Sagan, Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx, and Rik Van Steenbergen – but says that victories during his career came in an era of greater competition in the pro peloton.

“There are not as many top riders anymore,” Freire continued. “Sagan is so often superior to the rest and that shows that the level is not very high.

“There are some good riders, but not as many top riders in the current peloton.”

Friere’s opinions come after another rider from the early 2000s, spoke out against the “boring” state of current cycling, as Mario Cipollini lamented the dominance that Sagan and Chris Froome exerted over the sport.

Speaking after the World Championships, the Italian rider called on other teams to use better tactics in order to break Sagan and Froome’s strangleholds over one-day races and Grand Tours respectively.