Peter Sagan has claimed the younger riders in the peloton lack respect, suggesting there has been a considerable shift in attitudes from new pros as he has gotten older.
Now 32 years old, Sagan is no longer one of the young riders within the peloton, and race winners are getting younger and younger too. Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal and Tao Geoghegan Hart all secured their respective Grand Tour victories aged 25 or under, but Sagan is concerned the new generation of cyclists emerging has created a negative dynamic shift.
While reminiscing about his early days as a professional cyclist, the Slovakian claims his experiences differ completely to what he is now witnessing in the peloton, with young riders actively choosing to ignore the unwritten rules in races, creating "total anarchy" as a result.
Sagan told Het Nieuwsblad: “If you talk too much in the press, you only get rumours and polemics. That doesn't help anyone. As a young rider you have to learn how to deal with the media.
"Fabian Cancellara used to say a lot of things about me, very provocative, especially for the Classics. That always made me laugh, because it just meant he was getting really nervous about me. When the journalists came to me with his statements, I always replied: 'Fabian is my idol. I can't say anything bad about him'.
"Back then it was the older riders who talked a lot, now the younger generation does too. Then I think: okay, you are strong, a 'champ', whatever. But you are younger. The younger generation lacks that respect. You see, you feel that. In the past you had the unwritten laws in the race. Now, forget it. There is total anarchy there."
The three-time world champion continues, suggesting this lack of respect is most evident with toilet breaks, or the lack thereof, signifying this shift. Sagan suggests pros no longer have the opportunity to stop and relieve themselves at the side of the road, otherwise they risk their position in the race.
For Sagan, he can't understand this behaviour change, and even less so when people stay in the middle of the group when peeing.
"I first noticed it when as a leader in a stage race I stopped to pee. They kept on attacking, while that used to be a moment of rest in the peloton.
“The bathroom break just doesn't exist anymore. I saw it again in the Haut Var. You used to have the fixed time to stop to pee together.
“Now everyone is peeing from their bicycles. I then ask: Is that normal? I understand if you ride the final of say the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. But at a dead-end in the race? You don't lose anything by stopping for a while. And they don't even bother going to the edge of the road.
"No names, but they just piss in the middle of the pack. Everyone pees on everyone. Disgusting. And if you say something about it, you are supposedly arrogant, because you can't decide what someone else should do."
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