There’s nothing quite as thrilling in cycling as a daring, all-out descent. But some are definitely better than others.
So much so, that it can even be made more of a deciding factor in victory than the way up the climb.
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Two riders who have proven that in recent times are Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo). Both riders this year have used their daredevil descending prowess to help them secure monumental victories, but who’s really the best?
Here we take a look at a few pieces of evidence of just which of them really is the king of the descents.
1. Nibali chases back to the pink jersey group in the 2011 Giro
Having been distanced by the maglia rosa group ahead of the descent, then Liquigas rider Nibali sets-out to chase the race leader’s group down on the Passo Fedaia on stage 15 of the 2011 Giro.
Not only does the Italian navigate his past those slightly slower pros on the way down, but he’s forced to pick his way through the motorcade which has amassed in front of him.
And if it wasn’t enough to seemingly catch-up with the pink jersey group with ease, he just rubs it in a bit further by taking a quick feed from his back pocket at high-speed.
2. Sagan shows them how it’s done at the Tour de Suisse
The most impressive part about this descent from Sagan is that he’s barely even pedalling and still putting distance into his rivals.
Then riding for the Cannondale team at the 2014 Tour de Suisse, he pulls out his well-honed super-tuck skills to pull out a gap on the straights (hitting 80kmph), while he doesn’t even seem to slow down one bit as he takes some pretty tight corners.
3. Riding away at the Tour de Romandie
Though he couldn’t make this one stick, it was another master-class of descending by Nibali on the Cote de Lens descent on the first stage of the Tour de Romandie last year.
While the 2014 Tour de France winner seems to take the corners without flinching, a number of riders behind become severely unstuck by the tricky hairpins and the road towards Sion.
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4. That Col de Manse descent
So desperate was Sagan for a stage win at the 2015 Tour de France that he found himself in numerous breakaways as the race transitioned to the Alps.
But as Ruben Plaza of Lampre-Merida got away from the break on stage 16, Sagan was forced to risk it all on the descent of the extremely technical Col de Manse in order to catch him.
Simply sit back and enjoy some of the best descending you’ll ever see.
5. Descending to victory at Il Lombardia
Having endured a disappointing season, failing to place in either Grand Tour he contested, Nibali set out to make the final Monument of the season, Il Lombardia his saving grace for 2015.
And it looked like he’d planned it to perfection, slipping off the front of an elite group on the penultimate descent to put around 40 seconds into his rivals behind. He then had enough time to hold on up the final climb and down towards the finish to take the first major Classics win of his career.
6. Sagan gets a gap on descent to win the Worlds
While his attack on the final cobbled climb of the 2015 World Championships race was raved about, it was as much the descent the earned Sagan a year in the rainbow stripes.
With only a small gap coming off the climb, the Slovak gave himself a chance at holding off the chasing bunch by extending his lead with his trademark tuck, taking the corners without even thinking about the brakes. He was then able to hold on up the final climb to take his biggest career victory.