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Freeman Cebu Sports

Sagan, 2015 Cyclist of the Year

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

Peter Sagan was the story for professional cycling in 2015.

The Slovak is charismatic, funny and is clearly the face of cycling’s future. He is a good soundbite and does things out of the ordinary, in the podium and during races. And he is the 2015 World Road Race Champion. Poll after poll has Sagan winning the cyclist of the year honors.

The reason why Sagan is so popular is that he lose races. Confusing? In cycling, tradition have told us that the fans love their losers. Jan Ullrich over Lance Armstrong. Raymond Poulidor over Jacques Anquetil.  Ullrich never beat Armstrong and Poulidor came in the Tour de France in second place three times, and in third place five times yet, they are more popular than their winning rivals.

There is no fence sitting when it comes to Sagan. True, I love the way he does his thing on and off his bikes, but guess what, he’s not my “news” for 2015. My news is the exact opposite of Sagan and he is Bradley Wiggins.

While Wiggins has charisma, his humor is British and most of the time, he is dour and not funny. He is capricious and has skin as thin as onions. And he wears sideburns.

Why Wiggins? Wiggins was not even a consideration as a candidate for the cyclist of the year at cyclingnews.com and at velonews.com, two of the more popular English internet sites, yet, I picked him over Sagan and Chris Froome and Alberto Contador and Fabio Aru.

And the reason is the Hour Record. You can keep trying to win the Tour or a World Championship every year but you can’t try to win the Hour Record every year. Even the great Eddy Merckx only did it once, saying later that, “Never before had I so much pain, and I never felt such pain again.”  That was in 1972.

Last June 7, at the Lee Valley Velodrome in London, Wiggins rode 54.526km in one hour, breaking the record set by Alex Dowstt (52.937km) set a month earlier, in probably the most painful hour of his life. But it would never had happened if the UCI didn’t change the antiquated rules of the Hour in 2014. When the new rules were announced, a flurry of riders, actually, seven of them, starting with Jens Voight, challenged the record of Ondrej Sosenka who in 2005 rode 49.700. Voight, a very popular rider and retiring after the 2014 season, pushed the record further to 51.110km. Matthias Brandle ( 51.852), Rohan Dennis (52.491) and Dowsett improved the record but Jack Bobridge, Thomas Dekker and Gustav Larsson failed.

Wiggins 54.525km is expected to stand for a few years. The challenge in the future will probably come from Dennis, Dowsett and Brandle. Fabian Cancellara, although he is not saying much, is likely going to try before he retires this year. Tony Martin, a 3-time World TT champion, is another rider who is expected to try and break the hour.

Peter Sagan may win three more Worlds in the next few years and maybe at that time, I will chose him as the rider of the year. In the meantime, the record of Sir Bradley Wiggins, OBE, will likely stay for a few years and I’d like to homor him for that this year.

ACIRC

ALEX DOWSTT

ARMSTRONG AND POULIDOR

BRADLEY WIGGINS

DOWSETT AND BRANDLE

EDDY MERCKX

FABIAN CANCELLARA

HOUR RECORD

JACK BOBRIDGE

PETER SAGAN

WIGGINS

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