Another Worlds gone, another World Championship—Peter Sagan is making this look easy. But when you're gliding through the peloton with a giant X on your back, nothing actually is.
When the ink dries on the "Bergen, Norway" page of the cycling history book, it'll say "PETER SAGAN, THE KING" in big block letters, proving writer Andy McGrath right when he said, "Peter Sagan is probably the closest thing to Eddy Merckx that we will see." That's because Peter now resides among the all-time greats, like Oscar Freire, Binda, Rik Van Steenbergen, and of course, Merckx. But somehow, Peter surpassed them all on that fateful Sunday. He's a living legend, and it's precisely this that made his win all the more difficult and extraordinary.
The 27-year-old was marked from the onset, with a smaller national squad to support him—six riders to, say, Belgium's nine. Slovakia's place wouldn't be one of pulling back breakaways, though, as they'd rely on cunning and conservation instead. While the peloton attacked on every hill, they kept Peter sheltered and protected. But as the remaining laps counted down to zero, an all-out assault was launched on Salmon Hill by Etixx–Quick-Step's Julian Alaphilippe.
His move on the climb was crawled back by only one rider before the pair went on a daring descent. The duo soon approached a tunnel, after which, most of us at home lost sight of the action. And while we could do a recap of the missing four kilometers, we'll jump to the catch and finishing straight, where Peter found a fast wheel in the final turn and laid waste to the field with a dominant sprint that ended with an out-of-the-saddle bike throw to the line. In that moment, a new era of cycling was forged. We were now in the Age of Sagan.
And thank all that is good for this. No cyclist has ever displayed more grit, determination, charisma, humor, or devil-may-care attitude towards one of the most impressive palmares we can remember. With this victory, he proved that personality and winning aren't mutually exclusive, and more so, he set a new bar for fans' expectations of a champion. The pages of cycling history are dog-eared at September 24, 2017 now as we embark into uncharted territory. It's Peter Sagan's Age and we're just happy to be living in it.