Peter Sagan: 'Fabian Cancellara is a legend in cycling'

The world champion paid tribute the soon to be retired Cancellara, after winning stage 16 of the Tour de France to Bern

Fabian Cancellara congratulates Peter Sagan on his victory in the 2016 Tour of Flanders
(Image credit: Watson)

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) paid tribute to Fabian Cancellara after the finish to the stage 16 of the Tour de France, saying "Fabian is a legend in cycling."

Sagan won his third stage of the 2016 Tour on the 16th day which finished in Cancellara's home town of Bern, Switzerland.

>>> Pro cycling remembers Fabian Cancellara’s greatest moments

There had been a lot of build up to the stage for Cancellara, who was looking to take a fairytale stage win in his home town during the final Tour de France of his career.

But the three-time Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner was unable to take victory from a sprint finish, having hoped to make a move on the final cobbled climb 2km from the line.

Green jersey Sagan able to take a photo finish ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) as Cancellara took fifth place.

Sagan was keen to pay tribute to the man who's many career achievements he'll look to emulate, having beaten him back on stage one in the 2012 Tour from a breakaway to take his maiden stage win.

"Fabian is a big name in cycling he is a legend in cycling," said Sagan. For sure when I won first stage in Tour de France and I was young and I wanted to win.

"He’d won the prologue and had yellow jersey and at that time I was a young rider in the peloton and then we went in the breakaway together and I was like ‘I want to beat you because I want to win stage in Tour de France’. Maybe he was angry at the time with me because I was young, but now I am the [same] level of a rider."

>>> Five talking points from stage 16 of the Tour de France

The world champion also said that today could have panned out differently for Cancellara on the 209km stage if he'd been able to attack on the final climb, however the pace was so high that much of the peloton split and no-one was able to make a move.

The final group was made up of mostly Classics specialists and GC contenders, with bigger sprinters like Marcel Kittel and André Greipel unable to hold the pace and dropped out the back.

Tour de France - Stage 1

Peter Sagan beats Fabian Cancellara to win stage one of the 2012 Tour de France

(Image credit: Watson)

"For sure today would be very different if we can come to finish in the breakaway with Fabian," Sagan added.

"I think he wanted to make something good [happen] when he’s coming home. But with the sprint in the final I think it’s very difficult for anyone to be in the front and fighting for position and everything like that.

"You can tell for sure that he wanted to try, but I can not tell if it was a finish for him.

"For sure he was working very hard in the stage before for the team. In Mont Ventoux, Trek made the crosswind and they were pulling all day and then the time trial…day by day its tiring. I’m very happy for today but I’m also tired."

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Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).