Sixteen times Peter Sagan has proved he is winning at life
Two-time world champion on the bike, superstar and showman off it
by Colin Henrys
Another Tour de France, another story of Peter Sagan being, well, Peter Sagan. The world champion won stage three of this year's race in Longwy, on an uphill finish, despite starting his sprint earlier than he would have liked, and then accidentally unclipping as he put the power down.
It's easy to see why Sagan has such a following. Sport is full of characters and the fans love them.
It’s why Australian cricketer David Boon will always be remembered as much for the number of beers he once, allegedly, drank on a flight to England as his many cricketing feats; it’s why Mansour Bahrami can continue to fill a court at Wimbledon, aged 60, despite only moderate success during his playing career.
And every now again a character comes along who supersedes them all, both on and off the field of play. For cycling, read Sagan: the perfect blend of immense talent and character.
Sagan’s ability on the bike is undoubted – he’s now the reigning two-time back-to-back world champion, a Monument winner after victory in the 2016 Tour of Flanders, and is bidding for a record-equaling sixth Tour de France green jersey.
And away from the bike, Sagan has as much style and swagger as when he's on it. Here are our top 15 occasions the Slovakian superstar has proved he is winning at life.
Fancy dress? No, just Peter Sagan at the 2016 UCI Gala Dinner
Fedora? Check. Ribbon tie? Check. Cane? Check. Well, what else would you wear to accept the accolades for being crowned world road race champion AND topping the UCI WorldTour rankings?
Sagan was certainly dressed to impress at last year’s gala awards dinner, but then who can blame him after the incredible season he has had?
— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) October 18, 2016
Sagan is the most versatile rider in cycling - and widely regarded as one of the best descenders in the peloton.
But the Slovak national champion's descent of the Col de Manse on stage 16 of the 2015 Tour de France was truly a sight to behold. Just watch it.
One leg? No problem.
Stage three of the 2017 Tour de France was always likely to suit Peter Sagan, but the world champion decided to make things interesting as the leading riders hit the uphill finish in Longwy.
All set to charge through for victory, Sagan - having already been forced to start his sprint earlier than expected - accidentally unclipped as he went to put the power down but had the composure to continue his kick to the line, sorted his feet out and accelerated to victory. "What is pressure?" he joked afterwards.
???? RT @CyclingTodayEn
— Hiking & Nature (@HikeLoseWeight) July 3, 2017
Doing the 'running man' celebration at the 2012 Tour de France
Sagan turned pro in 2009 but it was at the 2012 Tour de France, that the then 21-year-old truly announced himself to the world - both with his talent on the bike and happy-go-lucky character. When Sagan followed up his stage one victory with another win on stage three, he celebrated ‘running man’ style.
Because, why not? Even in his first Tour de France, Sagan was leaving his rivals for dead.
Parking on a Citroen, Sagan style
Unsurprisingly, Sagan has been sought out by big brands to help promote their products. Citroen got the Sagan treatment here, because who has time for lifting a bike onto a car after a long ride?
What did you do on your wedding day?
Peter Sagan’s wedding to Katarina Smolkova was never going to be a quiet affair. Sagan likes to do things differently - but no-one would have expected the 'celebration' which unfolded in Slovakia in November 2015.
Sagan led the way, arriving in a green car and sawing through a log with a chainsaw, while dressed in traditional Slovakian wedding attire, to open the road up to the church.
World champ Peter Sagan enjoyed a quiet understated wedding............. pic.twitter.com/lqpmeAezWf
— Daisy (@marksemmence) November 13, 2015
After the nuptials came the releasing of doves into the skies above Slovakia before things truly took a turn for the bizarre.
Best Pro Cycling moment not featuring actual racing of 2015: Peter Sagan’s wedding. pic.twitter.com/FQx3KXNhPN
— James Higgs (@higgis) January 1, 2016
Yes, that is Sagan riding on a high wire. What did you do on your wedding day?
Peter Sagan: The Movie
A man like Sagan deserves his own movie, surely? What’s that? They’ve already made one? Rocky meets Gladiator meets Pulp Fiction in My Life is Like a Movie.
You're the one that I want
After an action-packed season with hundreds of days on the roads and countless miles in the legs, you'd think the off-season would be a chance for a pro cyclist to escape from the spotlight and rejuvenate for the forthcoming campaign.
How did Peter Sagan decide to spend his off-season after the 2015 season? By harnessing his inner John Travolta (again) with a full-scale Grease tribute, of course.
Peter Sagan does not play by 'the rules'
When Sagan turned up to the first race of the 2016 season with hairy legs, he caused quite the stir. Pro cyclists have been shaving their legs for some 100 years, after all. What sacrilege is this? But when you're the world champion and your name is Peter Sagan, you can do what you want!
It wasn't until mid-March, and a day off after a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico was cancelled due to bad weather, that Sagan finally reached for the razor.
Peter Sagan is definitely an amazing character. Yesterday in Tour de San Luis, with HAIRY LEGS !!! pic.twitter.com/6hIRPBMALJ
— Ufe (@oufeh) January 19, 2016
This is wheelie easy
Ever the showman, Peter Sagan has never missed an opportunity to pop a wheelie – Mont Ventoux? No problem. Alpe d’Huez? Easy.
Just won your first ever Monument in the rainbow jersey of world champion? Bring it on.
Wheelie, wheelie easy
Not content with popping wheelies on the biggest stages in pro cycling, Peter Sagan marked his first training camp with the Tinkoff team by hooking up with trials star Vittorio Brumotti to show off his wheelie tekkers to his new team-mates.
They say when in Rome… so we guess when at the Yas Marina Formula One circuit for a stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, do what Formula One riders do. After all, a rider with Sagan's engine will have no problem chasing back on to the peloton.
Mountain bike? No problem
The climb-heavy Rio 2016 Olympic road race circuit wasn't to Sagan’s liking, so the Slovakian – rather than chance his arm regardless or miss the Olympic Games – just hopped onto his mountain bike instead.
He was flying too, before a mechanical ultimately cost him a shot at a medal.
It’s unsurprising, really, that Sagan has built up a big following – and the Sag-fans were on top form during the Tour de France last year, when the peloton headed into Bern.
It was billed as a homecoming for Fabian Cancellara in his final Tour de France, but Sagan had other ideas – with his legions of S4Gan fans in Bern, the Slovakian won the stage.
The cooking revolution
Cycling sponsors pay a lot of money to get their names - and their products - attention, which is why there are no shortage of cringeworthy ads on the cycling circuit.
Bora pulled off a big coup when Bora-hansgrohe managed to sign Sagan for the 2017 season, and they've wasted little time making him the face of their 'cooking revolution'.
And it's not just a cheesy ad with a big Sagan thumbs up from Sagan that has graced our screens since their partnership began. The world champion's also giving out cooking lessons. "This is banana..."
Sagan may be a legend of the sport on the bike and a showman off it, but the Slovakian also revealed a deeper part of his true character by using his victory speech after winning his first world title in 2015 to reveal his thoughts on the European refugee crisis, rather than his own triumph.