Peter Sagan will face new challenges in 2020 as he prepares for his Giro d’Italia debut. Having won multiple stages at the other two Grand Tours, he will be hoping to complete the set.
When you’ve won as much as the Slovakian has, it makes sense to keep seeking out new challenges to keep things fresh. You’d get bored otherwise, wouldn’t you?
The question is, though, amongst all the Road World Championships and Tour de France stage wins, which are his best victories?
After watching a lot, and we mean a lot, of YouTube highlights to refresh our memories, we reckon we’ve come up with his top 10 victories of his career so far.
To be honest, we could have picked a top 25 and probably still had a few corkers miss the cut. What is apparent about the below list is how unique Sagan is as a bike rider, he can win in a number of different ways, which makes him such a nightmare for his rivals. As the three-time world champion turns 30, Sagan certainly has a number of years competing at the top level to add to his already impressive palmarès.
10. Eneco Tour 2016: Stage three
This win’s inclusion in the top 10 won’t make sense unless you watch the overhead replay of the sprint finish.
After the breakaway was caught in the final kilometre, Sagan had to pass 13 other riders, squeezing through traffic just in time to snatch victory on the line.
This sort of manoeuvre showcases the Slovakian’s racing instinct and tactical nous, timing his sprint to perfection and making such a skillful win look easy.
9. Tour de France 2012: Stage one
With 6km to go, André Greipel found himself on the front of the peloton, driving the speed up to 64km/h as the race approached the climb to the finish.
As George Hincapie piloted Cadel Evans up to the front, Sagan hopped onto the Australian’s wheel for a free ride to the business end of the race.
After a Sylvain Chavanel attack was reeled in, Sagan started dropping back as the road headed uphill. Cancellara then attacked with 1.5km and Sagan immediately jumped on his wheel.
Soon joined by Edvald Boasson Hagen, the front three began to look behind as they entered the final 500m. Gritting their teeth as they prepared to contest the sprint, Cancellara opened up the fight for the line as the peloton breathed down their necks.
Sagan then came round the yellow jersey to claim a first stage win on his debut Tour de France stage. What a way to announce yourself at the biggest race in the world at just 22 years old. And of course, we know the story of Sagan and the Tour doesn’t end here.
8. Tour of California 2012: Stage one
While Sagan has won sprints against far better opposition, it was the manner in which he took the victory. With 10km to go, Sagan suffered a puncture and despite his youth didn’t panic, managing to get back into the bunch. Then, with 3km to go, the Slovakian’s team-mate crashed, with Sagan narrowly avoiding coming down. Thanks to Daniel Oss, Sagan made it into the reduced bunch sprint and crossed the finish line first, in what turned out to be a thrilling finale.
7. UCI Road World Championships 2017 – Bergen, Norway
That Sagan’s third Worlds win in a row is his lowest-ranked is a testament to how good the others were.
Positioning himself in third place as the bunch hurtled around corners towards the finish line in Bergen, Sagan exploded out from behind home favourite Alexander Kristoff with 100m to go to take a historic third straight win.
6. UCI Road World Championships 2016 – Doha, Qatar
A dry day in Doha, Qatar, with temperatures into the 30s. Coming into the finish, Sagan was the last one to make the first group on the road after a crosswind split the race apart. On the finishing straight, Sagan said afterward his tactics were dictated by the headwind, meaning he came from behind with his sprint, zooming up the right-hand side of the road to snatch victory from Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who looked as if he was on track to win a second Worlds title. Instead, Sagan defended his rainbow jersey.
5. Tour de France 2012: Stage three
Two days later after Sagan’s debut Tour win, Sylvain Chavanel was again ahead of the bunch on the climb in the final kilometre. As Sagan responded to an attack at the head of the race, he escaped a crash that disrupted half the peloton.
Round the bend to the finishing line, one Vaconsoleil rider went shooting off the wrong way as Sagan came over the top to the front of the race and caught Chavanel. He then kicked again to push away from Boasson Hagen and Fabian Cancellara, still wearing the yellow jersey.
The Slovakian had enough time for what is now his iconic Forrest Gump celebration, sailing across the line to take his second stage win in three days at his first-ever French Grand Tour.
4. Tour de France 2016: stage 11
Instead of following the yellow jersey’s move like in his win on stage one in 2012, it was the yellow jersey who followed Sagan’s attack on stage 11 in 2016.
As crosswinds began buffetting the peloton, Sagan sensed an opportunity and started riding away off the front of the peloton, accompanied by team-mate Maciej Bodnar.
Chris Froome, keeping himself and his yellow jersey safe at the front of the pack, quickly latched on to Sagan, followed by team-mate Geraint Thomas.
This provided the incredibly rare scene of the yellow and green jersey of the Tour de France forming a breakaway 12km from the end of the stage.
Hitting speeds of 65km/h despite the high winds, the quartet worked well together. Despite Froome putting in a slight effort with the sprint at the end of the stage, Sagan had helped him take more time on his GC rivals and the Slovakian was free to take the victory as a reward for his cunning.
3. Tour of Flanders 2016
After avoiding a number of early crashes, Sagan moved his way up the peloton before attacking alongside Michał Kwiatkowski with 30km remaining. Despite counter-attacks from Cancellara in his last ever participation in the Monument, Sagan pushed on, going solo late on and holding his gap, becoming the first rainbow jersey to win Flanders since Tom Boonen with a gutsy ride.
2. Paris-Roubaix 2018
No palmarès for a rider of Sagan’s calibre would be complete without a Roubaix win.
With 54km to go, Sagan attacked the group of favourites and set off in pursuit of the three remaining riders up the road from the day’s breakaway. As the kilometres ticked by, Sagan had dispensed of all his competitors apart from Swiss road race champion Silvan Dillier, eventually outsprinting him inside the Roubaix velodrome to take his second Monument.
1. UCI Road World Championships 2015 – Richmond, Virginia, USA
Onto the cobbles for the final 4km in Richmond, Virginia, Zdeněk Štybar attacked almost instantly, as Germany’s John Degenkolb and others scrambled onto his wheel behind.
Next through was Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet as the next cobbled sector came with 3km to go, but then Sagan came over the top, having hidden within the bunch all day. Crouching down over his top tube but still pedaling, he broke away from Van Avermaet and Norway’s’ Edvald Boasson Hagen.
As the road began to go uphill towards the finish line, Sagan started grimacing and the pack chasing behind began to gain ground on the Slovakian. However, he hung on and had time to raise his hands aloft, sailing across the line to take the rainbow bands for the first time in his career.