In his regular mini-feature the eight-time Tour de France stage and Ghent-Wevelgem winner Barry Hoban shares his thoughts on cycling today.
Words by Barry Hoban
Photo by Andy Jones
I'm going to start by picking my choice of who was the most outstanding rider of last year, 2017. It's Peter Sagan, and I think we’ll see even more from him in 2018. In fact I can’t wait to see him in the cobbled classics this year. He’s made mistakes in the past, but you can see he’s learned from them, and he won’t make them again.
He’s come of age, and his tactics are improving all the time. He was text book in Bergen, winning his third world road title in a row. He didn’t put a foot wrong, and why I say he’s come of age is because he was so strong that straight after the race he looked like he’d been out for a spin. He looked like that because he knows exactly when to use his strength now.
He’s still got Achilles heels, but he knows them, and he knows his bogey riders. In the classics he’ll ride to eliminate them before he does anything else. For example, Greg Van Avermaet is a real bogeyman for Sagan, so watch him try to get rid of Van Avermaet. If he does that he’ll have his own way in the classics, because he’s got such an incredible finish.
Sagan will want revenge this year, too. He was unlucky in Flanders, if he hadn’t crashed I’m sure he would have caught Philippe Gilbert and he would have beaten him. Sagan certainly would have won the green jersey in the 2017 Tour de France. I couldn’t believe it when he was disqualified, when Cavendish crashed. That was not Sagan’s fault.
Mark is fast, he’s a great rider, but he’s totally Kamikaze. I never crashed in a Tour de France sprint because I never sprinted near the barriers. It’s Kamikaze alley over there. Okay, there’s no wind by the barriers, but there’s nowhere to go when the gaps close either.
Mark pushes it, he never backs off, which is very brave, but it has cost him. He was off balance when he went into that gap with Sagan in the Tour, and he didn’t back out. That’s why Mark crashed. It wasn’t Peter Sagan’s fault. So he’s is my pick of the 2017 crop. He’s the very best at what he does, and he’s one of the few modern riders with a personality as well. Or at least he’s one of the few who lets, or is allowed to let, his personality show through.