5. Peter Sagan
27, Slovakia, Bora-Hansgrohe
2017 wins: 12
12 race wins and a whopping 23 other top 10 placings would be considered an incredible year for most riders, but for Peter Sagan it would have been a disappointing season had the last of those wins not come with a tactically-perfect ride at the World Championships in Bergen.
Still, the Slovakian endured a difficult spring as the top step of the podium eluded him in the biggest one-day races, having only one victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne to make up for seconds and thirds at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Milan-San Remo, and Ghent-Wevelgem. But the biggest disappointment came when a crash with a spectator’s jacket scuppered Sagan’s hopes of another Tour of Flanders crown.
The victories still came in stages of Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour of California, and the Tour de Suisse, but Sagan’s Tour de France ended early as he was disqualified on stage four – after winning the previous day – following a controversial coming together with Mark Cavendish.
With the chance of a sixth Tour green jersey lost on the sprint finish in Vittel, Sagan’s focus then turned to the World Championship road race, where he hoped to become the first male rider to win three consecutive rainbow jerseys.
Reports going into the race was that Sagan was ill and not at his best, and for 257km of the 257.3km that certainly seemed to be the case as he remained ensconced in the peloton barely visible to the television cameras.
But as the finish line beckoned, the Slovakian jersey emerged, and Sagan timed his sprint to perfection to deny Alexander Kristoff a famous home win on the streets of Bergen.