Freeman Cebu Sports

Sagan is going to win the Ronde!

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

Today (Phl time) is supposed to be a race that was supposed to and will be, dominated by Peter Sagan. The race is of course, the most anticipated one-day race this year, the Tour of Flanders (aka Ronde de Vlaanderen).

The ToF is once of the five monuments of cycling and winning it even once guarantees greatness, winning it multiple times means you’re a cycling god. Raced first on 2013, the ToF celebrated its 100 years last 2016, after it was halted for the two world wars. The ToF is held in Belgium, a cycling-mad country of fish and chips. This year’s race is 263km long for men and 157km for the ladies. What makes this race singular not is the presence of multiple short, steep hills called, “bergs” that litter the race route, but that those short, steep climbs are paved with cobblestones which makes the tarmac slippery and dangerous.

In 2017, a Fil-am, Coryn Rivera, won the ToF, making her the only Asian to ever win a monument!

All those attributes are supposed to be a part of the DNA of Peter Sagan, the Slovak who had cycling at the palm of his hands from the beginning of the second decade of this century. At 31yo, he is at an age when the skill starts to reach the highest level. The only problem is how to keep it there.

You’d think that at  his age, Sagan would have already broken the record number of wins  (3) in this race held by six legends, notably Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Johann Musseuw. Unfortunately, Sagan had only the 2016 trophy to show for. It had a lot to do with teams racing against him, that’s they’d rather lose and let someone else win than Sagan and in some cases, luck played against him.

After a barren 2020 season, and a still barren (at least by his standards) 2021, three new rivals have shown up- Mathieu Van Der Poel, Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe. While the three are clearly superior physically than Sagan, they dont have his chutzpa, his rock star status (with his long hair), his playfulness with the fans and his charisma.

Last week, his team manager said that they may not renew Peter’s 5million Euro contract for next year as he was behind his prime. Well, the statement didn’t sit well for me and for the the rest of the world. It just goes to show you that in the sporting world, you’re only as good as your last win. Or that they’d rather pay more for,  “potential”, rather than pay an aging superstar. Just look at the way people are looking at Chris Froome and you’ll understand why.

That is why, even if Sagan is not tonight’s betting favorite, I would put all my money on the Sagan’s card. I don’t think Sagan is done just yet, it’s just that I think he has some weight issues, personal issues like the divorce from his ex-wire and the physical, after he got infected with covid.

Sagan may not be be everyone’s favorite, but I think he has a greater chance of winning now than the last time when he was dominating.

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